Violet Oakley, Man and Science

Violet Oakley: Man and Science (1910-1911) Oil on canvas
Man and Science
Oil on canvas
Credit Line
Gift of the South Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Red Cross, 1963
84 x 165 in.

A leading figure in American art throughout her lifetime, Violet Oakley (1874 -1961) was a painter, muralist, illustrator, portraitist, architectural and industrial designer, writer, civic leader, and advocate for world peace.

Impressed by a series of murals Oakley had completed in the Pennsylvania State Capitol, banker Charlton Yarnall commissioned Oakley to create a series of murals for the entrance hall and music room of his new neo-renaissance mansion at 17th and Locusts Streets in Philadelphia. The murals, collectively titled Building the House of Wisdom (1911), are considered to be among Oakley’s greatest achievements.

Man and Science is the third in a series of three large lunettes made by Oakley for the Yarnall House. Here the youth has become a man; the father of his own household, he shares the beauty of the world with his family from the rooftop of the House of Wisdom. They look out on and are inspired by a panoramic view of Florence, Italy, cradle of the Italian Renaissance and, in Oakley’s view, the birthplace of modern scientific and philosophical thinking.

The two previous elements in Oakley’s House of Wisdom series are The Child and Tradition and Youth and the Arts.

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