Violet Oakley (1874-1949)

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Violet Oakley widely known for her talents as an illustrator, stained glass designer, manuscript illuminator, and author, but perhaps her most widely known accomplishments are as a muralist; she was the first American woman to receive a public mural commission. Oakley is most recognized for her murals that fill the Pennsylvania State House in Harrisburg.

Oakley studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Drexel University, and was a student of Howard Pyle. Grand themes of peace and freedom resonate through her works, which take on a number of different styles, including Pre-Raphaelite and Art Deco.

She is also known as one of the “Red Rose Girls,” who along with fellow artists Elizabeth Shippen Green and Jessie Willcox Smith transformed the Red Rose Inn on the Philadelphia Main Line into a communal art gallery, where the women lived and worked together—something quite revolutionary that pushed against the strict gender roles of the time.