Sybil Atteck

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Sybil Marjorie Atteck (3 February 1911 − 1975) was a pioneering Trinidadian painter known for her work in watercolor. She is celebrated as Trinidad and Tobago's "first outstanding female painter" and was a founding member of the Trinidad and Tobago Art Society, the oldest established art organization in the Caribbean.[1][2]


A native of Rio Claro, Atteck moved with her family to Port of Spain when she was in her early teens. There, she attended Bishop Anstey High School,[3] and became involved in numerous artistic pursuits, with the encouragement of her grandmother. In 1928 she joined the Botanical Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, where she began to produce scientific drawings of flowers. Some of these were exhibited by the Society of Trinidad Independents in 1930.

In 1934, Atteck travelled to England, to study at the Regent Street Polytechnic in London.[4] Upon her return to Trinidad she resumed her former position. Atteck travelled again to study, in 1943, when she attended the School of Fine Arts, Washington University, and again in 1948, when she entered the Escuela de Belles Artes in Lima.[4] During the former sojourn she studied with Max Beckmann, whose ideas were to have a profound effect on her work. In Peru she studied the pottery of the Inca, a form that she found related to the pre-Columbian art of the Caribbean with which she was familiar.

Stylistically, Atteck remained an expressionist for much of her career, which opened her to charges of being "un-Trinidadian". Nevertheless, she exerted a great deal of influence on her contemporaries; Carlisle Chang, Willi Chen, Leo Glasgow, Althea McNish and Nina Squires are among the artists influenced by her work. In 1943 Atteck was a founding member of the Art Society of Trinidad and Tobago.[5]

Atteck died in 1975.


In April 2011 the exhibition Women and Art — A Journey to the Past, Perspectives on the Future that opened at Trinidad's National Museum and Art Gallery, marking 100 years of International Women’s Day, was dedicated to Sybil Atteck on the centenary of her birth,[2] and her painting Indian Festival was reproduced on the catalogue cover.[6]


  1. ^ Profile Archived 2016-03-05 at the Wayback Machine at NALIS.
  2. ^ a b "Women artists celebrate Atteck", Trinidad and Tobago Guardian, 11 April 2011.
  3. ^ "Our Founders: Sybil Atteck – Artist and Sculptor", The Art Society of Trinidad and Tobago.
  4. ^ a b "Our Founders: Sybil Atteck – Artist and Sculptor", The Art Society of Trinidad and Tobago.
  5. ^ "About", The Art Society of Trinidad and Tobago.
  6. ^ Audley Sue Wing, "Homage to visual artist Sybil Atteck" (letter), Trinidad and Tobago Newsday, 23 June 2011.

Further reading[edit]

  • Veerle Poupeye, Caribbean Art, London: Thames and Hudson, 1998.