Violet Oakley (1874–1961) was an illustrator, stained-glass designer and the first American woman to find fame in the burgeoning field of public mural painting. Throughout her 60-year artistic career she also devoted herself to the quest for a just and peaceful world. During World War II, the elderly Oakley continued that mission by joining with the Citizens Committee of the Army & Navy to produce portable altarpieces for use on American battleships, military bases, and airfields around the world. Oakley’s The Angel of Victory, originally painted for Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennett Airfield and now in the Delaware Art Museum’s permanent collection, was the first of her 25 wartime altarpieces, completed just two weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor. This exhibition reunites the altarpiece with preliminary studies for the project for the first time. It also explores Oakley’s unique creative process, and reveals how she responded to a volatile moment in world history by infusing her religious works with a democratic spirit and her lifelong belief in peace.
This exhibition was curated by the Museum's 2013 Alfred Appel, Jr. Curatorial Fellow Jeffrey Richmond Moll. Jeffrey is currently a Ph.D. student in Art History at the University of Delaware, specializing in 19th- and early 20th-century American art.