“Women in Motion Exhibit” at PAFA (Pt. 2 ) Red Rose Girls

by | Jun 21, 2022

The Red Rose Girls were artists from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, active in the early 1900s: Violet Oakley, Jessie Willcox Smith, and Elizabeth Shippen Green. They were given their nickname by their teacher, Howard Pyle, because they rented the Red Rose Inn together, creating a communal household of professional women, a radical act at the time. A fourth friend, Henrietta Cozens, managed the household.

Violet Oakley (1874-1961)
Trio at Cogslea: Elizabeth Shippen Green,
Henrietta Cozzens, and Jessie Wilcox Smith
(unfinished), c. 1906-11
Oakley’s painting Trio at Cogslea depicts Green, Cozzens, and Smith in intimate conversation and demonstrates the bonds of friendship and love that the group shared. Their decision to live in a single gender household was likely influenced by the opinion–held by many at the time, including their teacher, Pyle–that marriage meant the end of a woman’s artistic career. Instead, the Red Rose Girls were prolific and highly successful, especially in the field of magazine and book illustration.

 

 

Green, Oakley, and Smith seated, each holding a rose, while Cozens holds a watering can over their heads, pretending to water them. Identification on verso (handwritten): The red roses; Elizabeth Shippen Green, Violet Oakley, Jessie Willcox Smith, Henrietta Cozens; with Violet Oakley poster [in background] for first exhibition at the Plastic Club; taken at 1523 Chestnut Street, when they planned to move to “The Red Rose”, Villanova.