Violet Oakley, Albert Spalding, American Violinist
A leading figure in American art throughout her life, Violet Oakley (1874 -1961) was a painter, muralist, illustrator, portraitist, architectural and industrial designer, writer, civic leader, and advocate for world peace.
Oakley and her partner Edith Emerson often hosted notable artists, actors, and musicians at Cogslea, their home on St. George’s Road in Chestnut Hill. Their friend, world-renowned violinist Albert Spalding may have stayed with them during his many visits to Philadelphia for performances with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Among other notable accomplishments, Spalding played the premier performance of Samuel Barber’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra.
This painting illustrates Oakley’s ability to capture a likeness and portray a moment of action: swift, broad brushstrokes depict the dynamic Spalding mid-song, with his long, expressive fingers pressed on the neck of the violin and his eyes raised upwards. A preparatory sketch for the portrait is also included in Woodmere’s collection.
Throughout her career, Oakley explored the connection between the visual arts and music, as for example in her mural Youth and the Arts and her protrait of Amelita Galli-Curci in Woodmere’s collection.