This website showcases the work of Annie Louisa Swynnerton, the late-19th and early-20th century portrait, landscape and ‘symbolist’ artist, presenting all works for which images can be found from visits to galleries, private collections, auction houses and sources on the internet.
Note: website currently under re-development, so content may change or be absent at times. The work will be complete by mid-February. Join the mailing list if you wish to be notified when this is complete.
Annie lived at a time when female artists were generally under-valued by the male-dominated art establishment. Access to the full range of art school training, gallery representation and membership of art institutions was generally denied to them.
Annie broke the mold. She was remarkably gifted, but in the words of John Singer Sargent, a leading artist of the day and admirer of Annie’s work, she was “too good to be popular,” undermining the view that only men were capable of creating technically and intellectually meaningful works of art.
Ultimately she did achieve acceptance, in 1923 becoming the first woman to be admitted into the Royal Academy of Arts,* and by the end of her artistic life had become recognised internationally. However, having not had to opportunity to build up a public body of work, her fame diminished and she has received only limited attention since.
Annie had only one major exhibition in her lifetime, in Manchester Art Gallery in 1923, followed by an exhibition of her portraits in the same gallery the following year.
Manchester recently held a retrospective exhibition in 2018-2019, gathering together twenty-eight of Annie’s finest paintings to coincide with the centenary of women gaining the right to vote – Annie was a keen supporter of the suffrage movement and had known the Pankhurst family well.
Annie is known to have produced hundreds of paintings in her lifetime, but only forty-three survive in public galleries today and a handful are known from private collections. Images of a further fifty can been found in old publications, bringing the total number of images known to just over one-hundred, although many of these older images are of poor quality.
It would be wonderful to rediscover some of Annie’s lost work … can you help?
If you know of any works of Annie, or believe you may own one, please contact me (email@example.com), ideally with an image of the work included. My sole interest is to display the diversity of Annie’s work on this website and shed a little extra light on her artistic career. No personal information regarding the ownership or location of paintings will be displayed on this website or retained by myself. Original emails are permanently deleted from my email server after retrieval so there is no electronic trail to image origins.
I’m not an academic researcher, just an interested amateur and occasional artist myself. This site is strictly non-commercial. Any adverts that appear are placed by the web hosting company over which I have no control. Images on this site are water-marked with the site logo to discourage commercial reproduction.
Jonathan Russell – January 2019.
* Two women, Angelica Kauffman and Mary Moser, were founding members of the Royal Academy in 1768, but were never fully involved in the daily affairs of the institution. 155 years later, Annie became the first woman to be admitted on equal terms to the male members.