Violet Oakley

(American, 1874 - 1961)

Violet Oakley studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia with Cecilia Beaux and Joseph DeCamp (1858-1923), at the Art Students League in New York with Carroll Beckwith (born 1852) and Irving R. Wiles (1862-1948), and at the Academie Montparnasse in Paris with Edmond AmanJean (1860-1930) and Raphael Colin (n.d.). Although this early instruction may have had some formative effect on Oakley's work, none of her teachers would have as lasting an influence on the artist as Howard Pyle (1853-1911), the renowned illustrator who taught her at Philadelphia's Drexel Institute. He persuaded her to experiment with other mediums besides paint, and in 1900 she received a commission to design murals, stained glass and mosaics for All Angels Church in New York. In 1902 Oakley was selected to design murals for the Governor's Reception Room in the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg, a project that took her four years to complete. In 1911 Oakley was asked to paint more murals for the capitol after the artist who had been working on them died. This project occupied her for sixteen years. Although she is best known as a muralist, Oakley was also an illustrator and teacher.