Page 1

The Promise of Peace Violet Oakley’s United Nations Portraits



The Promise of Peace Violet Oakley’s United Nations Portraits

CONTENTS Foreward 2 The Pilgrimage of an Artist 4 UN Membership 22 Illustrated Works 26 The UN Today 72

March 30 - June 30, 2013


of numerous arts organizations including the

The Robert McNeil, Jr. Curator of Education

Plastic Club, the Philadelphia Art Alliance, and the Play & Players Theatre. Oakley will forever hold a prominent position in the history of Woodmere

It is a great honor for Woodmere to present The

Art Museum for her artistic contributions to the art

Promise of Peace: Violet Oakley’s United Nations

of Philadelphia, and through her association with

Portraits. This will be the first time many of these

Edith Emerson, who served on Woodmere’s first

extraordinary works have been exhibited in more

Board of Directors before becoming its curator.

than ten years, and they have never been shown in the context of interpreting not just their

All but four works of art in the exhibition are part

importance in art history, but in world history.

of Woodmere’s collection. We extend special

From a social and historical perspective, there

thanks to Andrew Zahn and Daniel Zahn, and John

may be no other group of works in Woodmere’s

Casavecchia and Russell Harris for lending the

collection that participates so directly in the heart-

four additional works that seem to complete the

felt global politics of their time. We are excited to

exhibition. We are also grateful to Suzanne Gilbert,

show Oakley’s great portraits of the first United

whose essay illuminates this endeavor from the

Nations delegates together with photographs,

broader perspective of a social history of art.

news reports, videos, and other accounts, thereby weaving the emotions of art into the web of history. In 1946, the world was reeling from the loss and horrors of World War II, and Oakley captures the urgent emotions of a collective effort to assure that no such world-wide catastrophe could happen again. Oakley was one of the great citizen-artists of Philadelphia - a supporter of other local artists, a popular and well-spoken civic leader, an internationally-known pacifist, and a cofounder 2

Part of the “The Promise of PeaceL Violet Oakley’s United Nations Portraits” as installed in Woodmere’s Antonelli II Gallery. Photography by Alan Orlyss 3

THE PILGRIMAGE OF AN ARTIST VIOLET OAKLEY’S EXPERIENCE AT THE UNITED NATIONS SUZANNE GILBERT Suzanne Gilbert is in the master ’s program for Art History at George Mason University with a specialization in 19 th - and 20 th - century American Art.

In 1946, artist Violet Oakley (1874–1961) was asked by Philadelphia’s Evening Bulletin to act as its correspondent at the first sessions of the United Nations Security Council in New York.1 She was ultimately requested to produce no less than ten drawings of the delegates there. Traveling from her home, Cogslea, located in a leafy neighborhood of Philadelphia, she arrived in New York on May 10. She spent the next several weeks observing the meetings almost daily and producing portraits of the world’s representatives who had gathered together to work toward international peace. Oakley was born into an established family of artists. Raised with her sister, Hester, in Bergen Heights, New Jersey, she was encouraged by her parents to devote herself to art in all its forms. Both girls received a formal art education that, while intermittent, was supplemented by intense selfstudy through copying and practice and frequent trips overseas. Through necessity, after her father ’s poor health brought them to Philadelphia and the financial circumstances of the family changed, Oakley worked as an illustrator for magazines and books. With the exceptional commission to decorate the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg, she would become, at the age of 26, the first woman artist in the United States to produce a public mural. She worked as an artist throughout her long

life and steadfastly believed in the higher power of art in society, especially during challenging times. Opportunities to combine her talents with her strong principles on moral, social, and global issues were particularly attractive to her. The assignment at the United Nations was tailor-made for Oakley. Her Bulletin liaison in New York was journalist Carl McCardle, an internationally minded correspondent who later served as an Assistant Secretary of State. He often traveled with Oakley to the UN and arranged for private sittings with many of the delegates for her. With only an evening’s notice from the newspaper to prepare for her trip, Oakley took the Friday morning train from Philadelphia to New York. Her enthusiasm for the job eclipsed any concern about the last-minute call to readiness. She had barely enough time to make that afternoon’s appointment to meet with the subject of her first official sitting, United States representative Edward R. Stettinius, Jr. Arriving at his apartment at the Savoy Plaza Hotel, she was led immediately to a sunny corner sitting room with windows on two sides. After struggling a bit with her easel, she was finally able to find a spot where the light shone behind her shoulder, rather than glaring in her eyes, and onto the face of her sitter. Here Stettinius’s features were revealed fully rather than only in silhouette. This moment was symbolically appropriate for Oakley’s experience during her assignment. While she was ever in awe of the power held by the delegates, and understood the tremendous responsibility and conviction they must possess, she could, with simple adjustment, focus her attentions on the task at hand rather than remain blinded by her subjects’ importance.

Hunter College, site of the United Nations Headquarters from March through June 1946. Copyright Š United Nations 2012 5

She kept a journal during her time in New York and

Nations Security Council offer viewers a wholly

recorded her impressions and observations. Her

unique perspective of the representatives. At

recollection of this initial meeting with Stettinius

the time of the meetings, World War II had just

demonstrates a characteristic perceptiveness:

ended, and the restoration of complete trust and

“He is strikingly handsome (as is always apparent

recovery was still tenuous. Countries pledged a

[when] seen in the terrible snaps of the candid

commitment to peaceful relations, though some

cameras). Very charming and quiet, though there

were understandably cautious. Viewed in the

is a certain amount of a mask there, which does

context of the times, the portraits become imbued

not reveal the whole mind and character of the

with greater significance.

man before you. That ‘Diplomatic Veil,’ which I As a striking visual complement to Stettinius’s

first [saw] so strongly while drawing Mr. William

portrait, the sketch of Ambassador Hussein Ala

Phillips, our Ambassador to Italy, in Rome in 1937!”2

from Iran is a study in contrasts. Again using In Oakley’s drawing, Stettinius’s strong profile is

white Conté, Oakley this time chose black paper

dramatically heightened by the bold outlining

for the greatest effect in capturing Ala’s glossy

technique indicative of an illustrator’s hand. His

jet hair, neatly trimmed mustache, and dark suit

eyes are shaded by his distinctive dark eyebrows,

jacket. The swiftly laid white crosshatching along

lending a hawk-like focus to his gaze. Oakley’s

the angular planes of his face and nose adds an

choice to render Stettinius in white Conté crayon

interesting feeling of frisson that belies his intense

on gray-blue paper effectively captures the

visual focus, but which, in fact, also speaks to the

representative’s full head of silver hair and the

volatile issue in play before the Council during his

highlights of light across his face and unbroken


brow. His classical looks seem almost sculpted Though Iran had been admitted to the United

from marble. She noted that the white Conté

Nations, it was not a member of the Security

was “the best way to get the shining effect of his

Council. However, in order for Ambassador Ala

white silver head. In that curving group at the

to address the members on a matter of national

long crescent of the Council-table, he shines like

significance to his country, an honorary chair was

a lighted candle. I am glad that this brightness

drawn to the table. Filing the Council’s very first

shines there for the United States.”3

complaint and submitting its first significant test Oakley’s sketches of the participants of the United

of diplomacy, Ala charged that Russian leaders


had failed to fulfill the terms of an agreement

Iran became a testing ground for US military

to withdraw from his country and that they

superiority over the Soviets. On March 25, 1946,

continued to occupy portions of it with military

Russia agreed to withdraw all troops from Iran

force. A 1942 treaty agreement had been signed

within six weeks, but failed to do so. As a result,

by Iran with the stated condition that British,

Iran appealed to the Security Council. Russia’s

American, and Soviet troops—originally stationed

questionable actions would contribute to the

in Iran to protect the country’s resources from

severance of their relationship by the United

German threat—were required to withdraw within

States and herald the beginning of the Cold War.

six months of the end of the war. As the war drew On the day the so-called “Iran question” was

to a close, the three occupying countries began

raised, Andrei A. Gromyko, the Russian delegate,

independently pressuring Iran for oil concessions.

was noticeably absent. In the opinion of many,

By 1945, the wartime alliance between Russia

this was not uncharacteristic considering the

and the United States became fractured and

View of council table as Hassein Ala, Iran, puts forth Iran’s case. Hunter College, 4 March 1946. Copyright © United Nations 2012


General view of the working press room after the Security Council session had ended. 03 April 1946, United Nations, Hunter College,New York. Copyright © United Nations 2012

uncomfortable cross-examination he would be

answered clearly with ready responses. Still, it

required to endure. According to Oakley, “His

was his exotic looks that continued to impress the

empty seat looked like Geneva with Italy absent

artist: “I kept seeing illuminated manuscripts.”6

in 1936.”4 This referred to the day of Abyssinia’s Delegate Gromyko proved to be a challenge to

(now Ethiopia) appeal to the League of Nations

Oakley. His regular absence prevented her from

for assistance that year after Benito Mussolini

making enough sketches or notations to produce

invaded the oil-rich country. As the Security

an adequate portrait by the time she submitted

Council discussed the Iran-Russia issue, Oakley

her interim progress report to The Bulletin. As

made note that “a small dark man with a fiercely

she noted in a letter to the managing editor,

drawn profile like that in a Persian manuscript

“His empty chair is not of any help!”7 Eventually,

slipped quickly into a seat at the far right of the

Gromyko began to attend the meetings and

crescent table. And so, I got my first careful little

she was able to make her studies. From her

drawing of the morning—(‘Small in stature, but not

seat, Oakley made note of the delegate’s age.

small in debate’ as one newspaper commented

Her drawing, she said, “as it developed, looked

afterward).”5 As the representative from the

very young, very boyish. He is young, as Mr.

Netherlands peppered Ala with questions, Ala

[Paul] Hasluck said the other day when I asked 8

if he himself was not the youngest man on the

ideas. Though the lengthy discussion allowed

Council. But there must be more maturity than

her time to sketch the delegate, she was still

I now have in this sketch.”8 Indeed, Gromyko’s

unsatisfied. “His expression never changes,” she

portrait shows a surprisingly youthful-looking man

wrote in frustration. “It is more poker than any of

for such a commanding role. Half-hidden eyes

the immobile Chinese countenances. It expresses

hold a look of suspicion behind the lenses of his

NOTHING, unchanging NOTHING. How shall I soon

glasses. As he leans forward, his broad shoulders

get a drawing of him which will show the inner

and chest are supported by folded arms that

or the true MAN? Can it be with a telescope or a

end in clenched hands. While the general viewer


would not know this, his position at the Council From her elevated position, Oakley made full

table would have placed his gaze out over the

use of her opera glass to bring faces into focus.

audience and toward the upper press box. Was

But there were times when a delegate’s place at

he thoughtfully considering the issue at hand,

the table and Oakley’s position in the press box

daydreaming, or simply giving an artist a fair shake

conspired to make sketching an accurate likeness

at her work?

difficult. In those cases, private sittings were Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the return of

essential. They also provided wonderful fodder for

the Russian delegate to the Council meetings

Oakley’s journal. One Saturday morning, she met

occurred once the discussions moved to issues

with Maurice Alexandre Parodi of France at his

other than Iran. On the day they discussed Franco-

Plaza Hotel suite. As he entered the room carrying

Spain, Gromyko readily contributed his opinion

a packet of letters to read while she worked, he

on the subject, based significantly on Spain’s

breezily said, “I don’t know why you want me.

assistance to the Axis against the Soviets during

I’m not pretty or anything.” She replied, “You are

the war. “Russia,” Oakley recounted, “proceeded

exactly what I want!”11

to hold fast in rich Russian vocalization as to just There is a great level of beauty in these portraits

how poor he considered the report to be and

that shows the artist’s eye and technique.

told again just how bleak was Franco’s past and

Following the lesson of Edmund Aman-Jean, her

also his present because of his previous deep-

instructor at the Académie Montparnasse who

dyed Fascist associations.”9 For over an hour, the

taught that “the nose is the key to the head,”

artist listened to the discourse, which included,

Oakley capitalized on the effectiveness of profile

she noted ironically, Gromyko’s “peace-loving” 9

to enhance this most characteristic feature of

to attend the Eighth Assembly meetings of the

many of her subjects.12 In addition to Stettinius

Council of the League of Nations. Her presence

and Ala, Dr. Peng-chun Chang of China and Dr.

there made it clear that she saw herself as a kind of representative for the hopeful, and perhaps

Pedro Leão Velloso of Brazil are shown to great

rational, forces in her home country. Within the

effect from the side. Delegate Chang sat on

pages of her “Geneva Journal” she could not

the Economic and Social Council and made a

staunch her frustration: “Oh! When shall our

particular impression on the artist. Besides his

Country step into that Pool and be healed? Healed

“arresting head,” “high thoughtful forehead,”

of its delusion of Isolation, of self-sufficiency, of

and “unusually long nose,” Oakley was struck by

self-righteousness, of fear, of unwillingness to

his humanity. “Mr. Chang then spoke in splendid

cooperate on the same basis as the other Nations,

English, a most pleasant and beautiful address,”

to pay its own share of the cost of this Herculean

she recalled, “his vocabulary startling in its

effort to create a new World-Order, to establish

expressiveness and originality, his thought as clear

LAW as a practical substitute for WAR?”15 While

as the light, his compassion and understanding of

sitting in the press room waiting for McCardle

all the peoples of the world in ‘the economically

to finish his report to The Bulletin, she took the

low pressure areas.’”13 His closing quote from

opportunity to record her thoughts: “This has

Confucius, which reminded the group of their

certainly been—so far—the most wonderful of the

responsibility to the world as a whole, prompted

days in this New York Experience. A little prayer of

Oakley to remark that “it was good to hear

praise and thanksgiving has been going up—like

someone with the courage and the spiritual insight

incense—from my seat in the Press section. Here

to voice these ideas at the Council table today.”14

I sit—at a meeting of the Council of the Nations Law Triumphant

– and my own country is at the Council table—a member of this League of United Nations!!!”16

Oakley was thrilled with her experience after attending her first Council meeting. It had always

On the face of things, Oakley, who celebrated her

been a source of sadness for her that the United

seventy-second birthday during the assignment,

States had decided against joining the League

might have seemed like an odd choice for a

of Nations after World War I. In September 1927,

press correspondent. In an arena dominated by

while overseas on holiday with her friend Edith

energetic young men, her dignified manner and

Emerson, she decided to travel on alone to Geneva

old-fashioned style, with her long, silver hair 10

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


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

First Meeting of UN Security Council at Hunter College. General view of Council table. 03 April 1946 United Nations, Hunter College,New York. Copyright Š United Nations 2012

Though she appreciated her elevated status at

of an unsuspecting Delegate. We can imagine the

the meetings, she continued to be impressed by

melee that would result! Pauses such as this add

the power and importance of the delegates and

a refreshing and unexpected touch to Oakley’s

what their presence at the UN represented to

firsthand account.

the world. Still, she was able to see through the Ideally Suited

pomp and observe that they were but human beings. Amusingly, Oakley discovered that the

On a sunny day in the Bronx in late February

great equalizer was the United Nations cafeteria,

1946, a group of seventeen men and women

where delegates mingled with the general public.

stood gathered at half-court in the Hunter College

In an early journal entry, she excitedly noted that

gymnasium. The light pouring in through the

at lunch that day she had found herself standing

three-story windows cast reflections on the shiny

in line behind the delegate from Brazil, amazed

wooden floor and illuminated a large plan drawing,

that “he was waiting on himself like the rest

its corners held out by two men, as each head

of the world!”

As the weeks progressed and

strained to see its contents. Gymnastics rings and

she became more accustomed to this unusual

climbing ropes secured to bare steel girders hung

situation, she added a measure of levity, balancing

above them and a grand piano stood pushed to

out the serious issues at hand. While lunching in

the wall and abandoned beneath a basketball

the cafeteria with a friend one afternoon, Oakley

hoop. It is hard to imagine that in a matter of

noted that her friend “found it very interesting

weeks, the recreation room of this women’s

to perceive the great variety of nationalities

college would be completely transformed and

milling around in the quest of food. I should like

become the site of one of the most momentous

to make a formal, decorative frieze of Delegates

events following World War II: the opening

and underlings and the Press, all carrying their

meetings of the United Nations Security Council.


own trays, and all looking very solemn about it!”23 Below this entry is a cartoon drawing of a

On January 1, 1942, in Washington, DC,

queue of diverse but dignified men and women,

representatives from twenty-six nations had

passing a sign labeled “In—Entrée” and carrying

gathered together to place pen to paper, each

trays filled with food and drink. At the head of

signing his name on a Declaration in a pledge to

the line, a saucy young man holds his own tray

defeat “Hitlerism.” There, the name first coined by

aloft as he turns behind, extending a leg in front

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was officially used to denote this distinguished group who came 13

together to fight the Axis aggressors and work

Secretary-General Trygve Lie of Norway, Hunter

toward a goal of global peace. The United Nations

College was selected over several other options

was officially established.

in and around New York City as the temporary headquarters for the United Nations until a

According to the 1946 Charter of the United

permanent location could be found.24 But a great

Nations, the Security Council was established

deal had to be done to prepare the building to

to act on behalf of the Members of the United

house a formal Council Chamber that would

Nations in order to have primary responsibility

accommodate delegates from eleven nations. Each

for the maintenance of international peace and

delegate had an average of ten advisors, and there

security. The eleven members of the Council

would be a secretariat of between 200 and 250,

included permanent members from China, France,

stenographers and translators, an audience of 700,

the USSR, the United Kingdom, and the United

and large press boxes where Oakley, McCardle,

States. All other members were elected for terms.

and up to 1,500 of their fellow journalists could rotate in and out as space permitted.25

Called a site that “suits almost perfectly” by

The site of new UN Headquarters as it looked in August 1946, about one month after the demolition work had began. General view, looking south, of the Manhattan site of the United Nations permanent Headquarters, at an early stage of demolition work. East River is at left, First Avenue at right. Copyright © United Nations 2012 14

Tapping every available pair of hands, huge crews

from view, in a subterranean chamber, a legion of

of carpenters and other craftsmen worked sixteen-

technicians recorded every word spoken above

hour days and teams of electricians labored

under the direction of Major Robert Vincent,

around the clock, returning to their homes only

recently returned from the Nuremburg trials. While

when they became too exhausted to complete

the Council Chamber, the various smaller meeting

their tasks. The unionized workers threatened to

rooms, and the lounges looked deceptively

strike at least fourteen times during construction,

polished, some areas had a distinctly make-do

but in each instance the secretariat succeeded in

flavor. Priority was given to the areas used by

negotiating suitable terms with the leaders of the

the public and the delegation, so finishing in the

trade unions to continue the work unabated. One

basement, where the press offices were located,

worker, tired and sweaty from the day’s labors,

was last minute. Because the headquarters were

responded with a grin when asked about the strike

to be temporary, all modifications had to be

negotiations adding, “Let’s see if the big-shot

reversible after the UN departed. Therefore, steel

statesmen can do as well!”26 Despite these threats,

girders were simply laid over the swimming pool

the general consensus was that the project was

and covered with cement blocks to provide the

too important to derail and involvement in it,

floor for the press room. But the hand rails and

no matter at what level, was an honor. Largely

steps into the pool were left to protrude!28 It was

because of this enthusiasm, a job that would

here that Oakley would review her notes and

normally take six months was completed in just

regularly meet with McCardle.

fifteen days.27 A Place of Permanence In order to best preserve the proceedings, the When it became clear that a permanent

most modern acoustical and lighting engineering

headquarters would be needed for the United

were employed to allow for the multitudes of

Nations, the question of location became

television, motion picture, and still cameras that

important and a source of pride for the many

would be recording the meetings. The entire room

American cities vying for the honor. While alone

was wired with a public address system and the

with her sitters, Oakley took advantage of the

state-of-the-art radio broadcasting booths were

opportunity to suggest her adopted hometown of

monitored by an on-site UN official who could

Philadelphia as a new and appropriate base for the

cut the transmission off the air, as needed, to

UN headquarters. As the City of Brotherly Love

the millions of listeners around the world. Veiled 15

(the meaning of the city’s name in Greek), she

Taking it in stride, a grinning Sir Angus quickly

said, Philadelphia naturally embodied the essence

reminded her that Valley Forge was “that place

of peace and would, therefore, help promote the

where George Washington exercised his veto.” 30

admirable and necessary efforts of the committee Picturesque, expansive, culturally and historically

toward a goal of worldly comradeship.

rich, and symbolically associated with the tenets Philadelphia had, in fact, launched an impressive

of freedom and liberty, Philadelphia seemed

campaign to locate the headquarters of the United

primed for selection. Suddenly, as a vote for the

Nations within its boundaries. The idea to propose

final site approval approached, John D. Rockefeller,

Philadelphia as a permanent home for the UN

Jr. of New York City called an emergency meeting

was reportedly suggested as early as October

where his staff, working until midnight, negotiated

1944, after the Dumbarton Oaks conference.29

an alternative proposal. At noon the following

In November 1946, a special UN subcommittee

day, the Headquarters Commission, expecting to

traveled 9,000 miles across the country on a

vote for Philadelphia, was instead presented with

scouting expedition and reportedly expressed

Rockefeller’s offer of seventeen acres along the

delight with the twelve square miles of free

East River in the heart of Manhattan.31 The offer

pastureland offered by Philadelphia. Recognizing

was too attractive to refuse.

that places such as San Francisco, Boston, and From There to Here

New York’s Westchester County and Flushing Meadow Park presented substantial competition,

Oakley was a woman of stalwart beliefs and

Philadelphia took significant measures to ensure

fierce religious conviction. Though raised in the

that the committee experienced everything it

Episcopal Church, she became a devout follower

had to offer. A twelve-car motorcade shuttled the

of Christian Science in 1903 after becoming

party over rolling hills and covered bridges, from

disillusioned when traditional medicine was unable

monument to museum, along the Schuylkill River

to save her father’s life and discovering that she

to Revolutionary War houses. While visiting the

was able to cure her own lifelong suffering from

historic Strawberry Mansion, Sir Angus Fletcher

asthma. Founded by Mary Baker Eddy in 1879, the

of the United Kingdom began a friendly chat with

Church of Christ, Scientist, fostered a belief in the

the caretaker, Sara D. Lowrie. In a good-natured

elemental ability of Christianity to heal. Christian

poke, Miss Lowrie pointed out that the British had

Science was also a religion of great acceptance.

burned the house down during the Revolution. 16

Under Eddy’s leadership, women were naturally

While conducting research for the mural series

embraced as equal participants, and all members

in the Governor’s Reception Room of the

were encouraged to make their own choices in

Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg, Oakley

life, following spiritual inspiration rather than edict.

learned about the life of William Penn and his

Oakley may have turned to Christian Science in a

vision of a utopian society free from persecution.

period of sorrow, but she found comfort, strength,

Each of the thirteen murals depicts an important

and creative stimulation within its folds for the

moment that led up to the Reformation, ultimately

rest of her life. Biblical verse appears throughout

leading to religious exile for Penn and setting

her writings, both public and private, and religious

him abroad with a number of other followers

imagery became a fundamental element of her

in a quest for a new home. Founded in 1682,

mural and stained glass commissions, many of

Philadelphia became a free society, democratically

which were for churches.

governed and legislated. Penn fostered peaceful relationships with the Native Americans he

During her weeks on assignment in New York,

encountered, who had previously been met with

she regularly attended services at a Christian

aggression from other colonists, and gained their

Science church and sought refuge and rest in its

respect by learning their dialects and negotiating

reading rooms. Here, she was able to reflect on

with them fairly.

the worldly issues being discussed just blocks away. The Church of Christ, Scientist has never

As a Quaker, Penn was a pacifist and believed in

taken a particular stance with regard to issues

religious tolerance and acceptance. In creating

of war, instead leaving the decision of position

his ideal society, his “Holy Experiment” brought

or belief to the individual. However, during both

followers of all faiths together with the trust that

World Wars the church was very supportive of war

they could provide the foundation for spiritual and

relief efforts, offering literature and the services of

peaceful unity. Oakley identified closely with Penn

Christian Science chaplains to soldiers. It may be

and found unending inspiration from his beliefs.

safe to say, then, that though the church offered

Describing the story of her life as “the pilgrimage

Oakley a foundation of spiritual strength and

of a painter seeking peace,” she followed her

solace, the fervency of her belief in peace came

religious and moral ideals and used her talents in

primarily from another source.

any way possible to convey and facilitate world


religious and moral ideals and used her talents in

innovative American decorative artists working

any way possible to convey and facilitate world

in the twentieth century, Meière became involved

harmony and pacifism. After she completed the

in the war effort after being rejected in 1941 for

murals for the Governor’s Reception Room, she

Navy service as a member of the WAVES (Women

was granted the commission to decorate the

Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). Not

Senate Chamber. Informed by her knowledge

discouraged, she instead taught first aid with the

of Penn, she expanded this vision into an epic

American Red Cross and used her artistic talents

forty-four-foot mural called International Unity

to decorate portable altar triptychs for use by

and Understanding. Including both allegorical and

military chaplains wherever they were needed.33

historical figures, the work traces the development

As a contemporary, a fellow artist, and an active

of international law. At its center, a monumental

participant in the war effort, Oakley enjoyed a

female figure representing Unity raises her arms,

level of camaraderie and shared interest with

enfolding and protecting all of humankind. Like

the younger woman that she likely could not

Penn, Oakley was a trailblazer. Even in midst

share with most people. Just four years before,

of global war, she persisted in her belief that

Meière had designed and executed the redos

humanity could come together and create a world

for the Church of the Holy Trinity in Rittenhouse

of peace.

Square in Philadelphia, of which Oakley was surely aware. And, like Meière, Oakley painted portable

Among Friends

altar triptychs and contributed at least twenty-

Though far from the sylvan calm of her home

five of them to the cause.34 These two women

and studio, Oakley was no stranger to New York

belong to the very small group of female artists

and, in fact, had many friends and acquaintances

who achieved the recognition and respect of the

there. Despite the serious attention her work

established art world during the first decades of

required, she was typically energetic and

the twentieth century.

productive. When not attending Council meetings

Sadly, Oakley’s friend Mary Fairchild MacMonnies

or working to refine her drawings, she filled her

Low (1858–1946) died in nearby Bronxville while

remaining hours with social events. During her

the artist was on assignment in New York. Low

trip, she visited the 57th Street studio of art

was also a talented painter who at the height of

deco mural painter and mosaicist Hildreth Meière

her career created one of two large murals for

(1892–1961).32 One of the most influential and

the Women’s Building at the 1893 Columbian 18

Oakley with one of her UN Portraits in a Philadelphia Enquirer Sun Magazine article. The notation on the right reads, “Awfully bad picture of V.O.” in what appears to be the handwriting of Edith Emerson, Violet Oakley’s partner in life.

Columbian Exposition. It hung opposite a

and ad-hoc public relations representative. Finding

companion mural painted by Mary Cassatt. After

Oakley’s sketches interesting and compelling in

her divorce from sculptor Frederick MacMonnies,

their context, Meigs wasted no time in inviting the

she married artist Will H. Low. Unfortunately, her

artist to the homes of other well-connected New

second husband’s concern over the scandal of his

Yorkers to display her work, tell what her subjects

wife’s divorce resulted in her disappearance from

were like, and discuss her experience at the

the art world later in life.

Council meetings. When asked how the members of the Council compared to those at the League of

Among Oakley’s other friends in New York was

Nations in Geneva, she remembered the lords, and

Louise Meigs (1871-1965), whose father founded

counts and princes at the table in 1927. Returning

Sarah Lawrence College. Sharing her early

to the present, she noted of the UN delegates,

drawings with her friend in the artist’s little hotel

“These men perhaps more broadly speaking

bedroom, Oakley discovered a great supporter 19

represent the people of their countries rather than

the idea of a world organization under law—would

‘the ruling class.’ That is, perhaps the people now

live on. For Oakley, that was no small achievement.

are the ruling class as true democracy grows and develops and matures, ‘increasing in favor with God and Man.’”35 By trip’s end, she had the rough template for the more formal presentations she would regularly give about the UN to women’s groups, art clubs, and other organizations upon her return home. Legacy By 1946, artist renderings of participants in events such as government proceedings like the Security Council meetings were becoming obsolete. The fact that Oakley’s sketches were published in The Evening Bulletin’s lifestyle section rather than the news pages demonstrates this change. Instead, photography offered an alternative that provided fast and cheap results, portability, and a product that captured people and places as they really were. In an era when realism was highly valued, photographs became the reliable new standard to document life. In this context it is, therefore, poignant to have sketches that show how a woman who believed deeply in global peace saw the people engaged in pursuit of this noble cause. In a way Oakley had become an anachronism. Sketches of world events had been common in newspapers her whole life, but no more. But the people and events that her drawings celebrated— 20

Violet Oakley, “Journal of an Artist at the United



Nations,” The Evening Bulletin, Philadelphia, June








“Hunter College Site for UNO will be Urged on

24, 1946. Violet Oakley, “Journal of an Artist at the


United Nations — City of New York, 1946,” manuscript, Violet Oakley Papers, 1841-1981, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution,


O’Dwyer,” The New York Times, February 25, 1946.

Washington, DC.




“Work at Hunter Goes on at Night,” The New










York Times, March 23, 1946.









York Times, March 24, 1946.



Violet Oakley, Untitled Article, The Christian

New York Times, March 25, 1946. 29

29, 1945. 30



Violet Oakley, “Notes from a Journal de



Institution, Washington, DC.


Oakley, “Journal of an Artist at the United

Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution,

Oakley, “Notes from a Journal de Genève”

Washington, DC.



“History of the League of Nations,” The United

Oakley, “Journal of an Artist at the United

Nations” manuscript.

Nations Office at Geneva, 19

Manuscript biography of Violet Oakley, compiled

by Edith Emerson, 1961, Violet Oakley Papers,

Nations” manuscript.


“Hildreth Meière Biography,” International

Hildreth Meière Association, Inc., http://

1841-1981, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian


Oakley, “Journal of an Artist at the United

Nations” manuscript.

Genève—1927,” manuscript, Violet Oakley Papers,


“An Incomplete Story,” The Evening Bulletin,

Philadelphia, December 18, 1946.

Nations” manuscript. Ibid.

George Barrett, “Philadelphia Site Impresses the

U.N.,” The New York Times, November 20, 1946.

Oakley, “Journal of an Artist at the United


H. Walton Cloke, “Philadelphia Sees Herself as

Fitting World Capital,” The New York Times, April

Science Monitor, January 7, 1957. 13

Frank S. Adams, “UNO Chamber Modernly

Equipped After 15 Days of Strenuous Work,” The



“Hunter Facilities ‘Marvelous’ to Lie,” The New

Oakley, “Journal of an Artist at the United

Nations” manuscript. 21

UN MEMBERSHIP The original 51 member states of the UN have

Some entities may be considered sovereign states

grown to the current number of 193. The two

but are not members due to the fact that the UN

independent nation states not currently in the

does not consider them as such. These, as well as

UN are Vatican City and Palestine. However, on

international organizations and non-governmental

November 29, 2012, Palestine was granted the

organizations (NGOs) can only become United

status of “non-member observer state.” A total of

Nations General Assembly observers, allowed

54 countries or territories are not currently in the

to speak, but not vote, in General Assembly

United Nations




“Membership in the United Nations is open to all other peace-loving states which accept the 1945 - 51 MEMBERS

obligations contained in the present Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able and

Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil,

willing to carry out these obligations.

Belarus, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Dominican

The admission of any such state to membership

Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia,

in the United Nations will be effected by a

France, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India,

decision of the General Assembly upon the

Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Liberia, Luxembourg, Mexico,

recommendation of the Security Council.”

Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, (Article 4, Chapter 2, United Nations Charter)

Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey,

In principle, only sovereign states can become

Ukraine, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, United

UN members. However, although today all UN

Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,

members are fully sovereign states, four of the

United States of America, Uruguay, Venezuela,

original members (Belarus, India, the Philippines,


and Ukraine) were not independent at the time of their admission.


1946 - 55 MEMBERS

1950 - 60 MEMBERS

Afghanistan, Iceland, Sweden, Thailand


1947 - 57 MEMBERS

1955 - 76 MEMBERS

Pakistan, Yemen

Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Lao People’s

1948 - 58 MEMBERS

Democratic Republic, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya,


Nepal, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sri Lanka

1949 - 59 MEMBERS

1956 - 80 MEMBERS


Japan, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia

In one of the many schools visited by the mission during their tour of the area, rpresentatives Mr. Max H. Dorsinville (Haiti), Mr. Edward W. Mulcahy (United States), and Hsi-Kun Yang (China) watch schoolroom work of the students. The photograph was taken in November of 1955, just a few months after long-simmering political hostilities had turned into rebellion.

1957 - 82 MEMBERS

1963 - 113 MEMBERS

Federation of Malaya, Ghana

Kenya, Kuwait, Zanzibar

1958 - 82 MEMBERS

1964 - 115 MEMBERS


Malawi, Malta, Zambia

1960 - 99 MEMBERS

1965 - 117 MEMBERS

Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African

Gambia, Maldives, Singapore

Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Gabon, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of the

1966 - 122 MEMBERS

Congo, Senegal, Somalia, Togo, Zaire

Barbados, Botswana, Guyana, Lesotho

1961 - 104 MEMBERS

1967 - 123 MEMBERS

Mauritania, Mongolia, Sierra Leone, Tanganyika

Democratic Yemen

1962 - 110 MEMBERS

1968 - 126 MEMBERS

Algeria, Burundi, Jamaica, Rwanda, Trinidad and

Equatorial Guinea, Mauritius, Swaziland

Tobago, Uganda

Jan Muzik (Czechoslovakia) addressing the Council during debates on the situation in Czechoslovakia. 21 August 1968

International Conference on Human Rights Opens in Teheran, Iran, 22 April - 13 May 1968 The International Conference on Human Rights, the first such world-wide meeting organized under UN auspices, opened this morning at the New Majlis Building in Teheran. Roy C. Wilkins (United States) addressing the plenary meeting held on

1970 - 127 MEMBERS

1975 - 144 MEMBERS


Cape Verde, Comoros, Mozambique, Papua New Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe, Suriname

1971 - 132 MEMBERS 1976 - 147 MEMBERS

Bahrain, Bhutan, Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates

Angola, Samoa, Seychelles

1973 - 135 MEMBERS

1977 - 149 MEMBERs

Bahamas, Federal Republic of Germany, German

Djibouti, Viet Nam

Democratic Republic 1978 - 151 MEMBERS 1974 - 138 MEMBERS

Dominica, Solomon Islands

Bangladesh, Grenada, Guinea-Bissau


1979 - 152 MEMBERS

Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Republic

Saint Lucia

of Moldova, San Marino, Slovenia, Tajikistan,

1980 - 154 MEMBERS

Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Zimbabwe

1993 - 184 MEMBERS

1981 - 157 MEMBERS

Andorra, Czech Republic, Eritrea, Monaco, Slovak Republic, The former Yugoslav Republic of

Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Vanuatu


1983 - 158 MEMBERS

1994 - 185 MEMBERS

Saint Kitts and Nevis


1984 - 159 MEMBERS

1997 - 185 MEMBERS

Brunei Darussalam

(On May 17 1997, Zaire’s name was changed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo)

1990 - 159 MEMBERS

1999 - 188 MEMBERS

Liechtenstein, Namibia

Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga

Djibouti, Viet Nam

2000 - 189 MEMBERS

1990 - 159 MEMBERS

Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Tuvalu

Liechtenstein, Namibia

2002 - 191 MEMBERS

1991 - 166 MEMBERS

Switzerland, Timor-Leste

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Estonia, Federated States of Micronesia, Latvia, Lithuania,

2003 - 191 MEMBERS

Marshall Islands, Republic of Korea (On 4 February 2003, following the adoption and 1992 - 179 MEMBERS

promulgation of the Constitutional Charter of


2006 - 192 MEMBERS

Serbia and Montenegro by the Assembly of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the official name


of “ Federal Republic of Yugoslavia” was changed to Serbia and Montenegro. By resolution A/

2011 - 193 MEMBERS

RES/47/225 of 8 April 1993, the General Assembly South Sudan

decided to admit as a Member of the United Nations the State being provisionally referred to for all purposes within the United Nations as “The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” pending settlement of the difference that had arisen over its name.)

Secretary-General Meets President of Rwanda. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) holds a meeting with Paul Kagame (second from left), President of Rwanda. 01 March 2009 27


VIOLET OAKLEY American, 1874-1961

The Representative from India was part

Sir Ramaswami Madaliar (1887-1976), Delegate from India 1946 Black and white Conté on brown paper

spoke in fluent English and presided

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Robert McLean, 1980

Ramaswami Mudaliar was an Indian

of the Economic and Social Council which opened at Hunter College....He, of course, with courteous ease and consideration. All who saw him there rejoice that his country is about to achieve its freedom— long sought. - Violet Oakley

lawyer, politician, and statesman. He served as a senior leader of the Justice Party and in various administrative and bureaucratic posts in pre-independence and independent India; as a member of the Imperial Legislative Council from 1939 to 1941; and in Winston Churchill’s war cabinet from 1942 to 1945. Mudaliar also served as India’s delegate to the UN at the 1945 San Francisco Conference, chairing the committee focused on economic and social issues. He was elected the first president of the Economic and Social Council on January 23, 1946. Under his presidency the council passed the resolution calling for

Sir Ramaswami Mudaliar, Delegate from India, (on

the international health conference.

left, standing) shakes hands with UN Executive Secretary Gladwyn Jebb, January 23, 1946. Copyright © United Nations 2012 29


VIOLET OAKLEY American, 1874-1961

Another arresting head at the Economic

Dr. Peng-chun Chang (1893-1957), Delegate from China 1946 Black and white Conté on buff paper

nose for a Chinese. He also spoke in

and Social Council: a high, thoughtful forehead and an unusually long beautiful English with an amazingly rich vocabulary. He referred to all the peoples in the ‘economically low-pressure areas’ with compassionate understanding. He concluded with a quotation from Confucius, because it was ‘so modern.’ —Violet Oakley, 1946

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Robert McLean, 1980

An intellectual leader of the UN and vice chairman of the Commission on Human Rights, Dr. Chang, along with Charles Malik from Lebanon and Eleanor Roosevelt, helped ensure the passage of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. He creatively resolved many stalemates in the negotiation process by employing aspects of Confucian doctrine to reach compromises between factions.

Dr. Chang greets Eleanor Roosevelt. Copyright © United Nations 2012 31


VIOLET OAKLEY American, 1874-1961

The very last meeting that I was able

Bernard M. Baruch (18701965), Representative from the United States to the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission 1946 Charcoal and graphite on paper

Atomic Energy, at which Bernard Baruch

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Robert McLean, 1980

Dead. . . the Bomb waits not on debate.

to attend in June was the opening session of the Commission on control of presented the United States plan. With my other drawings in the corridor is a small pencil sketch of him—with exciting quotations for his speech written all around it: One felt that this was perhaps the most fateful and critical moment in history. Baruch opened by saying: ‘We have come to choose between the Quick and the . . as there is no possible defense. . . it means not only the outlawing of the Atomic Bomb but the outlawing of war itself!’ —Violet Oakley, 1946 Baruch made his fortune on Wall Street and came to be known as the “Park Bench Statesman.” He was an economic adviser during the two World Wars and a confidant to six presidents. In 1946 President Harry S. Truman appointed Baruch representative to the UN Atomic

Baruch (left) accepts the appointment by United

Energy Commission. Baruch College

Nations Secretary-General Trygve Lie as temporary chairman of the Commission’s first session.

of the City University of New York was

Copyright © United Nations 2012

named for him. 33


VIOLET OAKLEY American, 1874–1961

After a rapid rise through the ranks

Edward R. Stettinius, Jr. (1900-1949), Delegate from the United States 1946 Black and white Conté on gray paper

as US Secretary of State from 1944

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Robert McLean, 1980

his resignation in June 1946 over what

first of General Motors and then of US Steel, Edward R. Stettinius, Jr. served until 1945, overseeing the end of World War II and the creation of the UN. He chaired the US delegation to the 1945 San Francisco Conference that brought 50 nations together to create the UN, and he became the first US Ambassador to the organization, a post he held until he saw as President Harry S. Truman’s refusal to use the UN as a forum to resolve growing Soviet-American tensions.



VIOLET OAKLEY American, 1874-1961

Johnson was a US foreign service

Herschel Vespasian Johnson (1894–1966), United States Deputy Representative to the United Nations 1946 Sanguine ContÊ on paper

Plenipotentiary to Sweden from 1941 to

officer from 1921 to 1953, serving as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister 1946, and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Brazil from 1948 to 1953. Between these posts, from 1946 to 1947, he served as acting US Ambassador to the UN, where he was a vocal proponent of the 1947 Palestine Partition Plan. The outcome of the UN vote is attributed to his collaboration with Andrei A. Gromyko; usually political

Collection of John Casavecchia and Russell Harris

opponents, they stood together on this issue, urging the General Assembly to

Photography by Alan Orlyss

vote for partition at once, and opposing last-minute efforts of Arab delegations to effect a compromise.



VIOLET OAKLEY American, 1874-1961

Hossein Ala’ was the Iranian Ambassador

Ambassador Hossein Ala’ (1882–1964), Delegate from Iran and Ambassador to the United States 1946 Black and white Conté on black paper

in March, 1946, on the threat of Soviet

to the UN and to the US (1946–1950). He spoke before the UN Security Council aggression toward Iran at that time.

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Robert McLean, 1980



VIOLET OAKLEY American, 1874–1961

Originally a physician, Hafez Afifi Pasha

Dr. Hafez Afifi Pasha, Delegate from Egypt 1946 Black and white Conté on black paper

Egyptian delegate and chairman of the

became one of the most highly regarded specialists on the Arab world. As UN Security Council, Pasha questioned the partitioning of Palestine as proposed by the Anglo-American committee. “. . . It is a great and important humanitarian task to save the surviving Jews in Europe. . . . Therefore we Arabs

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Robert McLean, 1980

do not object to the efforts of the AngloAmerican investigation, but when the Committee decides to recommend the sending of 100,000 Jews into Palestine and perhaps more later on without even suggesting that other countries share this burden, then the Committee’s recommendation becomes a political move. . . . One cannot but feel that this mass immigration into Palestine is designed to build Palestine into a buffer state within the Arab world to impede Arab unity.” —Hafez Afifi Pasha, London Sunday Times, May 7, 1946 In November 1947 the UN approved Resolution 181 requiring the partitioning of Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish state, but Arab nations rejected it. In May 1948 the Jewish state of Israel was proclaimed. 41


VIOLET OAKLEY American, 1874–1964

Delegate from Mexico 1946 Sanguine Conté on buff paper Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Robert McLean, 1980



VIOLET OAKLEY American, 1874–1961

Disarmament 1955 Ink and graphite on paper on board Collection of Daniel Zahn and Andrew Zahn



VIOLET OAKLEY American, 1874-1961

At the Assembly of the United Nations

Delegate from Haiti Addressing the Assembly 1946 Black and white ContĂŠ on brown paper

brilliant, poetic, and astonishingly brief

last Thursday, to me the most beautiful speech, in rich, sonorous French, burning, was delivered by the Delegate from Haiti of pure and should I say unmixed African blood. —Violet Oakley, 1946

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Robert McLean, 1980



VIOLET OAKLEY American, 1874-1961

Sir Hasluck saw the birth of the UN at the

Sir Paul Hasluck (1905– 1993), Delegate from Australia 1946 Black and white ContÊ on brown paper

had a long career in service to Australia,

1945 San Francisco Conference, where he headed the Australian Mission. He holding posts as Minister for Territories, Defense, and External Affairs between 1961 and 1969; and Governor-General from 1969 to 1974. He was known for transcending party interests and using his office to foster a strong national identity.

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Robert McLean, 1980



VIOLET OAKLEY American, 1874-1961

Sir Paul Hasluck (1905– 1993), Delegate from Australia, and Dr. Pedro Leão Veloso (1887–1947), Delegate from Brazil 1946 White and blackConté on black paper Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Robert McLean, 1980

Far left: Sir Paul Hasluck, Delegate from Australia; left: Dr. Pedro Leão Veloso, Delegate from Brazil Copyright © United Nations 2012 51


VIOLET OAKLEY American, 1874–1961

An impressive person of mature years

Dr. Pedro Leão Veloso (1887–1947), Delegate from Brazil 1946 Sanguine and white Conté on buff paper

of distinguished forebears. It is an

and experience in the ways of the world, his features indicate a long line antique profile, somewhat Dantesque; his polished dome reflects the lights of the ceiling in the Council Room in a veritable constellation: he shines crowned with stars. —Violet Oakley, 1946

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Robert McLean, 1980



VIOLET OAKLEY American, 1874–1961

Dr. Evatt was a jurist, judge, lawyer,

Dr. Herbert Vere Evatt (1894-1965), Delegate from Australia 1946 White conté on black paper

Attorney-General, and Minister for

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Robert McLean, 1980

and Commission for Conventional

politician, parliamentarian, and writer who held posts as Deputy Prime Minister, External Affairs of Australia. He played a prominent role at the UN’s San Francisco Conference of 1945 and subsequently headed Australian delegations to the General Assembly and served on the UN’s Preparatory Commission, Security Council, Atomic Energy Commission, Armaments. Evatt also represented his country in the Pacific Council, the British War Cabinet, the Council of Foreign Ministers, the Paris Peace Conference, the British Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference, and the Far Eastern Commission. In 1947 he was president of the South Pacific Regional Conference.

Bernard M. Baruch (center), United States Representative and Temporary Chairman of the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission, turns over the gavel to Dr. Evatt (right) upon his designation as first Chairman of the Commission. SecretaryGeneral Trygve Lie looks on, June 14, 1946. Copyright © United Nations 2012



VIOLET OAKLEY American, 1874-1961

I could see no variation of expression, and

Andrei A. Gromyko (1909– 1989), Delegate from the USSR 1946 Black and white Conté on buff paper

Whenever he spoke, learning forward,

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Robert McLean, 1980

Soviet Socialist Republics.

could but wonder what this unchanging countenance was guarding from me. with eagerness and pouring forth a musical river of Russian words, his strong, broad face became very flexible, yet with still no change of expression that I could detect. Perhaps it indicates unalterable conviction of the rightness of the advanced ideas of his own vast Union of

He refers to them as among ‘the peaceloving peoples of the world.’ Let us pray. —Violet Oakley, 1946

Originally a research associate at the Soviet Academy of Sciences, Andrei A. Gromyko was appointed Ambassador to the US in 1943. He successfully urged that the major nations should have veto power, and after he became the first Soviet Permanent Representative to the UN in 1946, he used it—25 times before he left the post, in July 1948. Gromyko served as Ambassador to Britain in 1952–53 and became Foreign Minister in 1957, a post he held for 28 Andrei A. Gromyko, Delegate from the USSR.


Copyright © United Nations 2012 57


VIOLET OAKLEY American, 1874-1961

Perhaps the most striking figure at the

Dr. Charles Malik (19061987), Delegate from Lebanon 1946 Black, sanguine, and white Conté on buff paper

speaks with a deep, rich voice in excellent

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Robert McLean, 1980

country of Lebanon. One is impressed

Economic Social Council was that of the Representative from Lebanon. He English, stressing always the international implications of every decision. His massive head, front brow from which his thick black hair rises with a sort of astonishment, vivifies the picture of the gathering of the Nations. He referred to ‘the critical central region’ of his own that wherever he is, indeed, is a center! —Violet Oakley, 1946

Author of numerous articles on scientific, social, and philosophical topics for American and Arabic journals, Charles Malik attended the UN’s San Francisco Conference in 1945, was Lebanon’s representative on the UN Economic and Social Council from its second to its eighth sessions, and was president of the Council for its sixth and seventh sessions. A leading force in the organization, he is perhaps best known for his role as chairman of the General Assembly’s Dr. Charles Malik, Delegate from Lebanon and

Social and Humanitarian Committee

chairman of the General Assembly’s Social and

during the drafting and adoption of the

Humanitarian Committee Copyright © United

Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Nations 2012 59


VIOLET OAKLEY American, 1874–1961

With Sir Alexander Cadogan it was good

Sir Alexander Cadogan (1884–1968), Delegate from the United Kingdom 1946 Black, sanguine, and white Conté on buff paper

China agreed with me that it would

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Robert McLean, 1980

A central figure in British policy before

to speak of that other great Englishman, William Penn. Both he and Dr. Quo of have been most suitable had the new City of the United Nations come to Pennsylvania—to grow and develop on the soil of Penn’s Holy Experiment. —Violet Oakley, 1946

and during World War II, Sir Cadogan served in Britain’s diplomatic service from 1908 to 1950. He was Permanent Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs from 1938 to 1946, representative to the UN’s Dumbarton Oaks Conference in 1944, representative to the UN from 1946 to 1950, a member of the Privy Council beginning in 1946, and chairman of the Board of Governors of the BBC from 1952 to 1957. .

Sir Alexander Cadogan, Delegate from the United Kingdom Copyright © United Nations 2012 61


VIOLET OAKLEY American, 1874–1961

160 words max.

Delegate from the United Kingdom 1946 Black, sanguine, and white Conté on buff paper Collection of John Casavecchia and Russell Harris Photograph by Alan Orlyss



VIOLET OAKLEY American, 1874–1961

Norwegian lawyer and politician Trygve

Trygve Lie (1896-1968), from Norway, SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations 1946 Black and white Conté on brown paper

and famously described it as “the

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Robert McLean, 1980

have given us a sacred mandate: that is,

Lie was the UN’s first Secretary-General. He held the post from 1946 to 1952, most difficult job in the world.” In the aftermath of World War II and at the onset of the Cold War, Lie sought to make his office a “source for peace.” Those who gave their lives in order that we may be free, those who lost their homes, those who suffered, and still suffer, from the consequences of war to build a firm foundation for the peace of the world. —Trygve Lie, February 2, 1946

Trygve Lie of Norway addresses the General Assembly as newly appointed Secretary-General of the United Nations, 1946. Copyright © United Nations 2012


VIOLET OAKLEY American, 1874–1961

In the center of the long crescent table,

The Opening of the United Nations 1946 Pastel on paper

figure rises above the others on either

beside the President of the Council, sits the Secretary-General. His powerful, great side: his grave yet genial countenance imposes a sense of dignity and security which strengthens and holds together the Nations there assembled.

Collection of Daniel Zahn and Andrew Zahn

—Violet Oakley, 1946



VIOLET OAKLEY American, 1874–1961

Many are the pages in my sketch books

Dr. Eelco Nicolaas Van Kleffens (1894-1983), Delegate from the Netherlands 1946 Black, sanguine, and white Conté on buff paper

he graciously gave me a sitting in his

with light notes of the Representative from the Netherlands. For this drawing office at the Dutch Legation. He is indeed a keen instrument sharpened for this work for the world’s security. Very tall and thin, with long hands which he uses expressively when speaking, he penetrates to the heart of every matter before the Council, and with such sensible and kindly wisdom and humor, often saves some delicate situation which

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Robert McLean, 1980

might otherwise have proved dangerous. —Violet Oakley, 1946

Dr. Van Kleffens was involved with the UN from its earliest days. In 1945 he served as chairman of the Netherlands’ delegation to the San Francisco Conference, where the UN Charter was drawn up; in January 1946 he served as chairman of his country’s delegation for the first part of the General Assembly’s first session, held in London; and that fall he served as vice-chairman for the second part of the session, held in Flushing Meadows, New York.



VIOLET OAKLEY American, 1874-1961

Parodi was President of the Security

Maurice Alexandre Parodi (1901–1979), Delegate from France 1946 Black, sanguine, and white Conté on buff paper

Paris Underground, he has now emerged

Council when this drawing was made. Known as ‘Monsieur X,’ a leader of the to this active service for the world in the bright light of the Council Room of the United Nations. His life was spared by a miracle when France was liberated. Swift, alert, turning rapidly from side to side, he presides with a wisdom won through darkness, danger, and great suffering.

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Robert McLean, 1980

—Violet Oakley, 1946

Parodi was an officer, an organizer of the French Resistance in World War II, and managing director of the Committee of National Liberation in occupied France. Between 1945 and 1960 he was France’s first Permanent Representative to the UN, Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Permanent Representative to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and Ambassador to Morocco.



VIOLET OAKLEY American, 1874-1961

Dr. Lange was a noted economist whose

Dr. Oskar Lange (1904– 1965), Delegate from Poland 1946 Charcoal and white Conté on gray paper

the new Polish Communist regime’s first

work provided the earliest model of market socialism. In 1945 he became Ambassador to the US, and in 1946 he served as the Polish delegate to the UN Security Council. He returned to Poland in 1947, where he continued working for the Polish government.

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Robert McLean, 1980


THE UNITED NATIONS TODAY In the sixty-seven years since the United Nations

and more, to achieve its goals and coordinate

first convened in London in 1946, it perseveres as

efforts for a safer world.

the world’s only global organization and primary UNITED NATIONS MEMBERSHIP

forum for addressing issues that transcend national boundaries that cannot be resolved by

The original 51 member states of the UN have

any one country acting alone.

grown to the current number of 193. The two independent nation states not currently in the


UN are Vatican City and Palestine. However, on

• to keep peace throughout the world

November 29, 2012, Palestine was granted the status of “non-member observer state.” A total of

• to develop friendly relations among nations

54 countries or territories are not currently in the United Nations.

• to help nations work together to improve the lives of poor people, to conquer hunger, disease


and illiteracy, and to encourage respect for each other’s rights and freedoms

Originally, English and French were established as the working languages at the UN. The six official

• to be a center for harmonizing the actions of

languages used at the United Nations today are:

nations to achieve these goals. Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Along with its specialized agencies, the UN works


on a broad range of fundamental issues that include sustainable development, environment

This website offers an overview of some of the

and refugees’ protection, disaster relief, counter

global issues facing the UN today, and links to

terrorism, disarmament and non-proliferation. It

other resources where you can get additional

is engaged in activities that promote democracy,


human rights, gender equality and the


advancement of women, governance, economic and social development and international health, clearing landmines, expanding food production 74

The UN Security Council Meets in 2013 to discuss extending UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone. Copyright Š United Nations 2013 75

© 2013 Woodmere Art Museum. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission of the publisher.

This exhibition was supported in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

Photography by Rick Echelmeyer unless otherwise noted. Front cover: Sir Paul Hasluck (1905–1993), Delegate from Australia, and Dr. Pedro Leão Veloso (1887–1947), Delegate from Brazil, 1946, by Violet Oakley (Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Robert McLean, 1980) Photography by Rick Echelmeyer

9201 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19118

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,...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you