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Detail study of figure for Germantown Friends School seal Image 1

Detail study of figure for Germantown Friends School seal

c. 1924
Carbon copy on cardboard
Credit Line
Gift of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, 2015
20 x 15 in.

Description & Inscriptions

Founded in 1845 by the Germantown Monthly Meeting of the Society of Friends, the Germantown Friends School opened its doors to boys and girls of all faiths in 1885. Coeducation was unusual in private schools but equality of the sexes was a Quaker principle.

The class of 1924 commissioned Oakley to design the school’s seal as a gift to their alma mater. The artist generated the seal’s image from the motto selected by the students: “Behold, I have set before thee an open door.” Confidently swinging open a nail-studded door that was virtually identical to the one in Oakley’s studio at Cogslea, a youth steps out over the border of the seal. At a time when women were bobbing their long tresses, the boyish mop of loose dark hair gives the figure an androgynous appearance suitable for a coeducational institution. The barefoot youth wears ancient garb banded at the chest. The view of sea and sky behind the doorway introduces a mystical element, suggesting that the youth has flown in like an angel.


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