Sydney artist Jenny Sages has received the Archibald Prize People’s Choice award with After Jack, a self-portrait exploring her grief in the wake of her husband’s death.

It is a follow-up to her 2011 Archibald finalist  My Jack,a portrait of her husband in the last year of his life.

Sages, whose work has appeared in the Archibald Prize exhibitions 20 times over the years, said she was “overwhelmed and moved for this recognition”.

“I lost my husband Jack having shared 55 years together he was my rock. Anything else I would paint for the Archibald seemed trivial to me,” she added.

Anne Flanagan, acting director of the Art Gallery of NSW, described  After Jack as a deeply “emotional piece”.

“This is a painting of [Sages] dealing with her grief after losing her husband. She felt shifted and healed, that she could put the work out there and begin to move on.”

More than 16,000 people voted in the People’s Choice award this year. It is rare for the same work to win both the Archibald Prize and People’s Choice – this year the main prize went to Tim Storrier’s playful self-portrait The Histrionic Wayfarer (after Bosch).