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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 Sailings Gooding in Brookline, Massachusetts. Her father was a silversmith and engraver, and her mother was a gifted needleworker. Stimulated by the example of her parents, Sykes developed an interest in art during her childhood. She initiated her formal studies at the Lowell Institute in Boston in 1875 and enrolled at the school of the Museum of Fine Arts in 1878. Sykes is believed to have studied at the museum school until her marriage 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." Desirous of refining her artistic 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.
She was a regular contributor to the annual exhibitions of the Boston Art Club, New York Watercolor Club, Art Institute of Chicago, the Philadelphia Water Color Club and the Ohio Water Color Society. In 1892, she became a charter member of the Woman's Art Club of Cincinnati. In a thirty-one year period, Sykes would exhibit at the Cincinnati Art Museum on forty-two occasions.