The Promise of Peace: Violet Oakley's United Nations Portraits
The Oakley portraits showcase her lifelong dedication to the promotion of peace and world harmony. One of the great artists of Philadelphia, Oakley was an independent, forward-thinking, and self-described “pilgrim seeking peace” who began her career in 1895 and achieved great success in a male-dominated profession. This will be the first time many of these works have been exhibited in more than ten years, and they have never been shown in the context of interpreting their historical moment.
twisted elaborately about her head, must have Powers. Though the United States conceived of created a stir in the press box. But her experiences the idea for the League of Nations and signed the in Geneva twenty years earlier made her uniquely covenant, it never officially joined. However, the qualified for the job. There she had watched country was an active participant in the United the proceedings with great emotion and closely Nations. World War II had taught Americans an observed the League members and what she important lesson. They could no longer remain called “those countenances, indicators of the inner neutral bystanders in a troubled world. motions of the Mind revolving there—to maintain Oakley was delighted with her joint role as artist order, control passion, develop understanding, and documentarian and enjoyed the trappings and preserve Life on this Planet.”17 From her that came with her newspaper credentials. “I have notes and sketches, she made formal drawings never before been a newspaper representative,” of many of the participants and would return she said, “and I find my Press button and all Press again during September and October in 1928 and privileges very impressive and important, and I am 1929 to continue her study making. In 1932, the enjoying them to the full.”19 As a member of the portraits were published in a portfolio titled “Law press, she was entitled to join the other journalists Triumphant.” in the press box, where limited seating was The need for a collective body of representatives available on a first-come, first-served basis. Using from the world’s nations was first proposed on her maturity and gender to her advantage, she January 8, 1918, as part of President Woodrow was often provided with a prime location despite Wilson’s “Fourteen Points” message laying the box being full. On one occasion, she noted out the conditions to achieve world peace. that “‘the house’ was packed, but the polite usher Closing the list, point fourteen states, “A general gave me a good seat, right in the middle bloc association of nations should be formed on the reserved for ‘distinguished guests’ of the different basis of covenants designed to create mutual Delegations.”20 She also enjoyed sitting next to guarantees of the political independence and international journalists who seemed intrigued by territorial integrity of States, large and small her presence and she in theirs. The London Times equally.”18 The first session of the Council of the reporter “proved very interesting and interested League of Nations met in Paris on January 16, and asked many questions.” But, she noted with a 1920, seven months after the Treaty of Versailles note of superiority, he “had not been at Geneva.”21 ended the war between Germany and the Allied 11