Violet Oakley, Portrait of Mrs. Chester Pyle (Eleanor Pyle) at Cogslea
Violet Oakley was born in Jersey City, NJ, and lived in Philadelphia after her family returned from a trip to France when she was 21. Oakley was renowned as a muralist, stained glass designer, watercolorist, and illustrator during the “American Renaissance,” a period of cultural renewal in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, and the second woman ever hired to teach at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA).
In 1906, Violet Oakley and her Red Rose Girls collective - Elizabeth Shippen Green, Jessie Wilcox Smith, and Henrietta Cozens - moved to a home in Chestnut Hill owned by Dr. George Woodward. They named their new residence Cogslea, using an acronym based on their names: C for Cozens, O for Oakley, G for Green, and S for Smith, with "lea” standing for the sloping land of the new estate. In this watercolor, Oakley's friend Eleanor Pyle stands framed by the topiary arch in the garden at Cogslea.
Violet Oakley created two similar portraits of Eleanor different mediums, one in watercolor on paper (above), and the other in oil on canvas which can be found here: Eleanor Chance [Pyle] in Front of Garden Archway at Cogslea.