Oakley, Violet, 1874-1961

Alternative names
Birth 1874-06-10
Death 1961-02-25

Biographical notes:

Muralist and illustrator, of Pennsylvania; 1896, student of Howard Pyle; d. 1961.

From the description of Violet Oakley papers, 1897-1985. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 70975899

Violet Oakley died on 25 February 1961.

From the description of Miscellaneous manuscripts, 1935-1950. (University of Pennsylvania Library). WorldCat record id: 122584716

Muralist, painter; Philadelphia, Pa.

From the description of Violet Oakley autograph and photograph, 1902. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122502857

Violet Oakley was born in New Jersey but spent most of her life in Philadelphia where she attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the Drexel Institute. She is best known for a mural she painted in the Capitol in Harrisburg. Throughout her life she was active in international peace efforts.

From the description of Correspondence, 1918-1923. (Temple University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 122541726

Violet Oakley, an American artist, painted a series of murals depicting "William Penn's Holy Experiment" for the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg.

From the description of ADS, 1921 August 13 : Philadelphia [Pa.] to John Marshall Gest / Violet Oakley. (Haverford College Library). WorldCat record id: 46667756

Violet Oakley (1874-1961) was a Philadelphia-area artist who had been educated both in Europe and the United States. She was a student of Howard Pyle of the Brandywine School. Her works included heroic murals found in the Pennsylvania governor's mansion and in the State Capitol, featuring William Penn and the Quaker founding of the Commonwealth. She was also a portraitist, her sketch of Jane Addams being featured on the memorial calendar to Addams in 1943 published by the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. The League's fortieth anniversary in 1955 inspired Oakley to publish Cathedral of Compassion: Dramatic Outline of the Life of Jane Addams, 1860-1935. Oakley's artist companion of many decades, Edith Emerson, was instrumental in mounting an Oakley revival as an exhibition in 1979 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

From the description of Collection, 1933-1979 1933-1942. (Swarthmore College, Peace Collection). WorldCat record id: 28903277

Muralist, painter, stained glass designer, Philadelphia, Pa.

Born Bergen Heights, N.J. Both grandfathers were painters and members of the National Academy. She studied at the Art Students' League, the Academie Montparnasse, Paris, in England with Charles Lazar, at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and at Drexel Institute with Howard Pyle. She worked as an illustrator and stained glass designer in her early career. Her study of the life of William Penn in connection with her mural decoration of the State Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., inspired her to work for international peace and a series of portraits of the delegates to the League of Nations.

Her early studio "Cogslea" was shared by illustrators Elizabeth Shippen Green and Jessie Willcox Smith. Her later studio "Lower Cogslea" was shared by artist Edith Emerson, who after Oakley's death in 1961 established a memorial foundation in her name. Oakley was the first woman elected to the National Society of Mural Painters, was a recipient of the Gold Medal of Honor of the PAFA, and was the first woman to receive the Gold Medal of Honor from the Architectural League of New York. Her writings include The Holy Experiment- A Message to the World From Pennsylvania (1922), Law Triumphant-The Opening of the Book of Law, and the Miracles of Geneva (1933).

From the description of Violet Oakley papers, 1841-1981. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 81163236


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Ark ID:


  • Painting, Modern--20th century
  • Portraits, American
  • Mural painting and decoration
  • Mural painting and decoration--20th century
  • Painting
  • Muralists
  • Arts
  • Women illustrators
  • Women painters
  • Mural painting and decoration, American--20th century
  • Peace in art--History--Sources
  • Women painters--Correspondence
  • Art, American
  • Women and peace--History--Sources
  • Painters
  • Women artists
  • Artists--History--Sources


  • Women artists--United States


  • Pennsylvania (as recorded)
  • Pennsylvania--Philadelphia (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Pennsylvania (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Pennsylvania (as recorded)
  • Pennsylvania (as recorded)
  • Pennsylvania--Philadelphia (as recorded)
  • Pennsylvania--Philadelphia (as recorded)