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 Annie Sullings Gooding Sykes  (1855 - 1931)

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Lived/Active: Ohio/Massachusetts      Known for: floral landscape, street scenes, still life and figure painting

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Ad Code: 4
Annie Gooding Sykes
from Auction House Records.
Poppies
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from Spanierman Gallery (retired):
One of several prominent women associated with the artistic life of Cincinnati at the turn of the century, Annie G. Sykes was recognized for her colorful, Impressionist-inspired watercolors. Throughout her long and successful career, she explored a variety of themes ranging from landscapes, flowers and the figure to the picturesque scenery of New England, Europe and Bermuda.

Sykes was born Annie Sullings Gooding in Brookline, Massachusetts. Her father, Josiah Gooding, was a silversmith and engraver, and her mother, Ann, was a gifted needle-worker. Stimulated by the example of her parents, Sykes developed an interest in art during her childhood, honing her skills as a draftsman in art classes at school by drawing flowers, trees and other natural forms. She initiated her formal studies at the Lowell Institute in Boston in 1875, attending drawing classes there until 1878, when she enrolled at the school of the Museum of Fine Arts. Sykes is believed to have studied at the museum school until her marriage to Gerritt Sykes in 1882.

Following her nuptials, Sykes and her husband moved to Cincinnati, at that time a flourishing cultural center dubbed the “Queen City of the West.” While Gerritt and a friend established the Franklin School for boys, Sykes continued to follow her artistic inclinations. Desirous of refining her skills, she enrolled at the Cincinnati Art Academy in 1884. Throughout the next ten years, she continued her training under such noted American painters as Frank Duveneck and Thomas Satterwhite Noble. Although she occasionally worked in oil, watercolor became Sykes’ favorite medium of expression.

Despite the birth of two children--Milly in 1885 and Anne in 1888--Sykes successfully balanced the demands of home and family with her professional aspirations. She began contributing to the annual exhibitions of the Boston Art Club in 1890 and the New York Watercolor Club the following year. In 1892, she became a charter member of the Woman’s Art Club of Cincinnati, where she would exhibit regularly until 1923.

In 1895, Sykes had her first solo show at the Traxel & Maas Gallery in Cincinnati, exhibiting a group of her watercolors. Local critics praised her fresh, vibrant colors and her spontaneous technique, and in a review in the Cincinnati Enquirer she was identified as representing “the new school of impressionism.” Sykes’s longstanding relationship with the Cincinnati Art Museum began that same year, when she first participated in that institution’s annual shows. Indeed, between 1895 and 1926, she would exhibit there on forty-two occasions. Sykes also had a show (with Emma Mendenhall) at the Cinncinati Art Museum in 1908, and a three-person exhibition (with Emma Mendenhall and Dixie Selden) two years later.

Sykes’s work was also featured in the annual watercolor shows at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Philadelphia Water Color Club and the Ohio Water Color Society. Her numerous professional affiliations included the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors in New York and the Cincinnati Museum Association. Her standing among her peers was such that she was often invited to serve juries of selection, along with such eminent painters as Duveneck, Noble, Maurice Prendergast and Edward Redfield.

Prior to 1900, Sykes’ was active in and around Boston, Cincinnati, and in Nonquitt, Massachusetts, where her family had a summer home. After the turn of the century, she spent many summers in Cape Porpoise, Maine. She also painted in Bermuda (1913), Williamsburg, Virginia (circa 1918), Ithaca, New York (1920-1925) and Barnston, Quebec (1928). Sykes made her first trip to Europe in 1906, touring the great museums and galleries with her daughters. She went abroad again in 1909, spending her time painting landscapes and street scenes in Germany, Italy and France.

Despite deteriorating health during her later years, Sykes continued to paint until her death in Cincinnati in 1931; as noted in the Cincinnati Enquirer, “Mrs. Sykes worked up to the end, even when she was physically unable to do so. Her devotion to the art was one of the beautiful things in her eventful life.”

Sykes is represented in public and private collections throughout the Midwest and the Northeastern United States. Solo exhibitions of her work have been held at the Appalachian Galleries, Morgantown, West Virginia (1989) and at the Pattee Library at Pennsylvania State University (1990).

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