Great Women of the Bible, "The Raising of Dorcas by Saint Peter", sketch
18 7/8 x 12 1/4 in. (47.9 x 31.1 cm)
Medium and Support:
Charcoal, pastel on paper
Gift of the Violet Oakley Memorial Foundation
Label from American Originals: Works on Paper from the Permanent Collection, La Salle University Art Museum, December 16, 2015 through March 4, 2016:
From 1945-1949 Oakley worked on 10 designs for the series Great Women of the Bible murals for the First Presbyterian Church in Germantown. For each design, she completed a series of preliminary sketches, figure studies, and scaled drawings prior to executing the final mural painting.
In the biblical story, Dorcas is described as a mathetria, meaning “female disciple.” She is the only woman in the bible given that title because of her strong family values, commitment to her community, and faithfulness as holy woman. The drawing on bottom depicts the story of her rising from the dead surrounded by friends and family after Saint Peter had visited and prayed over her. After a time, he commands her to waken, extending his hand to help her rise as she opens her eyes.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the feminist “New Woman” movement encouraged women to become entrepreneurs in their professional education and careers. Violet Oakley and several other female artists lived together at the Red Rose Inn in Villanova to pursue the creation of “art for art’s sake.” Oakley and her friends later moved to a home in Mount Airy which they called Cogslea, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Known collectively as the “Red Rose Girls,” these artists strived to be independent and to help raise the value and opinion of women’s artwork.