The American Renaissance was the period of the “City Beautiful” movement initiated by the 1838 Worlds Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The Beaux Arts educators in France had taught artists of all disciplines to work together to create beauty. The American Renaissance was its counterpart, the unique nationalistic expression of our country’s modernism and technology combined with the academic classicism of Greece and Rome. Creating great architecture with classical roots and sculptural decoration in beautifully landscaped settings kept many artists busy into the first quarter of the 1900′s. Frederick Warren Allen was traditionally trained. He understood, taught and practiced the esthethic and so collaborated well with architects to create beautiful enduring works with sensitivity to the symbolism of higher ideals.
Featured below are just a few of Allen’s architectural collaborations.
Click on any thumbnail to enlarge the image and see a brief description.
Pegasus Medallion, 1929
MFA Evans Wing Granite Relief “Painting,” 1914
Duck Boy, about 1924
Eros, about 1924
Trinity Church Memorial Tablet, 1922
Nancy Richmond, relief, 1918
Boston Public Library War Memorial, Bronze, 1924
Crucifix, St. Francis Chapel
Chapel of St. Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio
Head of a Woman, abt 1959
Cole Chapel, Memorial Plaque
Annie Talbot Cole
World War Memorial, Dedham, MA, 1932
George Washington Monument, 1942
Church of the Advent, Boston, MA, 1931
NY County Courthouse Pediment, abt 1924
Memorial Tablet on Garden Fountain
Keith Field Eagles, Brockton, MA, 1924
Roslindale War Memorial Design, 1920 scale model
Pediment of Archers
Relief for Residential Mantle
Memorial Plaque for Mt. Hope Cemetery
Boy with Goatskin
Pegasus Medallion, 1929“Pegasus, the medallion which has been modeled for the new Harvard Advocate building by Frederick W. Allen, head of the department of sculpture at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. The winged horse of ancient mythology has been the symbol of the collegiate society ever since its foundation in 1886.”
The Harvard Advocate is the undergraduate literary monthly at Harvard and, according to its own statement, “the oldest continuously published collegiate literary magazine in the country.”
Allen’s Pegasus Medallion is a good example of bas-relief technique, showing how much dimension can be created with such shallow depth of carving. In this piece he added color, accenting the sculptural details with pigments: aqua in the circular concentric grooves of the background representing the sky, dark olive on the horse’s mane and hooves and shading the incised Greek lettering that rings the border. The color gives the medallion added interest by walking the line between painting and sculpture.
MFA Evans Wing Granite Relief “Painting,” 1914In collaboration with Guy Lowell, Architect for Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, Frederick Warren Allen was chosen by his Museum School teacher and mentor, Bela Pratt, who had won the commission, to sculpt one of three granite reliefs for the Fenway Facade of the new Evans Wing upon his return from studying in Paris in 1913.
Although Allen had already received orders and commissions for other work, this was his first major piece. It established his reputation among the leaders of the thriving Boston art world of that era and cemented his place as an instructor at the Museum School of Fine Arts.
Duck Boy, about 1924Cornelius K.G. Billings, one of the several wealthy men for whom he designed grand estates on the Gold Coast of Long Island, commissioned Guy Lowell to do two mansions. The first was the famous “Tryon Hall,” high above the Hudson River on the site of Fort Tryon (1907). The second was “Farnsworth” in Matinecock, Long Island (1914). Classically designed interior and exterior fountains and water elements in both homes were the sites of several sculptural pieces. When Billings retired in 1917 to Santa Barbara, CA, he again made use of Lowell’s genius. Allen’s “Duck Boy” was chosen in about 1924 for an interior marble pool surrounded by flowering plants. Billings spent the rest of his life by the water in this house in the company of the happy chubby boy and his duck.
Eros, about 1924Arthur Vining Davis, born raised and educated in Massachusetts was the enormously wealthy and controversial figure who built Alcoa into a giant. A very private person, he presented himself as a hard-working man and distinguished himself as a philanthropist. Guy Lowell designed an estate for him about 1922 on the Gold Coast of Long Island in the classical style for which he was known. Lowell wrote books about Italian villas and gardens and this home was typical with its white stucco arcaded exterior, red tile roof and formal terraced gardens. Lowell chose Allen’s figure of the Roman god Cupid for a fountain at the Mill Neck estate and ordered a replica for himself.
Trinity Church Memorial Tablet, 1922Recognized as one of the most significant of American buildings, Trinity Church was designed originally by Henry Hobson Richardson, one of the first two architects to graduate from l’Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. Returning to America expecting to make his mark, he decided that there should be a uniquely American architectural style and developed what has become known as “Richardsonian Romanesque”. Trinity Church is its finest example. The building was dedicated in 1877. After the early death of its innovative architect in 1886, three of the architects who had been working with Richardson took control of the firm and finished his projects. Charles Allerton Coolidge, one of those architects for the porch, awarded the commission of a large bronze war memorial tablet to Frederick Allen for the nave of Trinity Church inside the front doors to the right of the entrance to the sanctuary. Other commissions Allen received from Coolidge were a bas-relief portrait of Mayor Andrew Peters, a tablet for an unspecified large Boulder and a Peabody Medal. The work earned him the attention of the BPL who commissioned him to create a bronze memorial plaque for the courtyard of the Library.
Nancy Richmond, relief, 1918A sculptor studies the skull to start a portrait. There is always something distinctive. As a child grows, the top of the head and the forehead become smaller in relationship to the face. As the bones mature the features become elongated and more defined. The neck becomes longer and the fullness in the face is reduced. Once the sculptor understands the underlying skeletal form and has reproduced it accurately of a subject, the facial features can be added. At age ten, the beginning of puberty, the forehead size is more proportional to the frontal features than in a young child.
In this portrait, Nancy’s jaw is still not fully formed and the neck has not elongated to teenage proportions. Her forehead is high, but is now only about a third the size of her face instead of a full half. The jaw line is undefined still. The eyes are deep and the nose has a clear shape, so there is definition, but there is still plumpness in the flesh at the eye, cheek and jowl. Her mouth, turned down at the corners, gives her a very serious appearance.
Boston Public Library War Memorial, Bronze, 1924This handsome and modest bronze tablet (20″ x 30″) “with design and lettering in relief, … is the work of a prominent Boston sculptor, Frederick W. Allen,” announced the Boston Globe. You will find it outdoors on the North Wall of the beautiful courtyard of the Boston Public Library overlooking the garden “where the fountain plays and people come to read during their noon hours.” (Boston Evening Globe Nov.11, 1924)
The tablet reads in condensed capital serif letters, “In honor of the employees of the Public Library of the City of Boston who served in the World War 1917 – 1918. Erected by their fellow workers.” It will “stand for those who strolled in the court as a silent witness of an enduring bond, a memorial of the conflict waged for liberty and righteousness.” (Transcript Nov. 11, 1924)
Crucifix, St. Francis ChapelAllen’s eldest daughter, Barbara, and her younger brother, Frederick, both have childhood memories of their family making a trip to see what she remembers as a life-sized crucifix that their father had made for the Kershaw Estate’s St. Francis Chapel in Marlborough, New Hampshire. Barbara remembers being very proud that her father had done that impressive work. Probably just eleven years old at the time, it must have looked huge seen hanging on the outside wall of the chapel overlooking the peaceful waters of Stone Pond.
The chapel and the crucifix have been well cared for on this picturesque country property. Weekly summer Episcopal services are still held on Sunday and weddings are frequent occurrences in the tiny Episcopal sanctuary by the water.
Chapel of St. Francis and the Wolf of GubbioThe entry door to the St.Francis Chapel at the Kershaw Estate in Marlborough, New Hampshire takes you into a tiny sanctuary, still active for summer Episcopal services. Guests at the frequent weddings here approach the chapel under a bell attached to a stone arch onto a low-walled stone terrace overlooking Stone Pond. It has been under a canopy of trees in a grove of laurel with a mountain reflected in the mirror of the water just beside it since it was built in 1926. The whitewashed stucco walls are punctuated with a bright blue wooden door and woodwork trimming the windows. Above the entry in a lunette is a bas-relief of St. Francis kneeling and blessing a wolf. A child following him bears gifts accompanied by a lamb and birds fly and perch nearby. A peaceful scene in a serene place.
Head of a Woman, abt 1959Head of a Woman is pink granite, probably the beautiful coarse pastel stone quarried from North Haven’s sister island, Vinalhaven, off the mid-coast of Maine across from Camden. Of heroic size, it is the partner piece to his own favorite work of art, carved from a gray granite North Haven beach boulder and named “Egyptian Head.”
Head of a woman was purchased for the beautiful gardens of Goodstay, the DuPont Estate in Wilmington, Delaware by Allen’s friend from North Haven, Robert Wheelwright (1884-1965) the Landscape Architect for the Estate.
Cole Chapel, Memorial PlaqueIt was the vision of Samuel Valentine Cole to make Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts a four-year college from a seminary for women, and thus he became one of the most important figures in its history. Noticed by Mrs. Wheaton when he was still a minister, she appointed him as a trustee in 1893. He worked tirelessly to transform the institution until he reached his goal in 1912. During that time he graduated from the Board to the position of President, all the while making improvements in the curriculum and quality of the faculty.
His most noticeable achievement was the beautiful campus plan designed by the renown ecclesiastical architect, Ralph Adams Cram as his first academic project.
Annie Talbot ColeWhen the Cole Memorial Chapel was dedicated on October 16, 1926 after the death of Dr. Samuel Valentine Cole in 1925, a memorial plaque was placed inside the narthex or entryway, honoring this great man. After its dedication, William Isaac Cole, the elder brother of S.V.Cole commissioned a lovely memorial Inside the chapel to Samuel’s beloved first wife Annie Talbot Cole.
World War Memorial, Dedham, MA, 1932"Peace," reads the inscription, the idealistic goal of war. The committee concluded, "The monument is unique and individual in design. It is impressive and will serve to make us better Americans, better men, better women.” It will be a constant reminder that lives were lost “to the end that liberty may be enjoyed by all Americans.”
A committee had been named who gave the project two years of thought and discussion, finally choosing a design by Frederick Warren Allen. Working with architect C. Howard Walker on the final stone tower on which the memorial would be carved and the details of the figure, a final compromise was reached. The committee chairman concluded that "The monument is unique and individual in design, he said, and something that cannot be easily copied by other towns."
George Washington Monument, 1942The Catholic children of the diocese in Fall River collected their pennies to pay for the erection of what was heralded as being one of the most beautiful George Washington monuments and “of such artistic merit and patriotic intent as to attract nation-wide interest,” reported the local paper on October 8, 1942. The monument was dedicated appropriately on July 4th of that year with much pomp and ceremonial celebration.
The paper reports that Maginnis & Walsh, Architects were asked to choose a nationally recognized sculptor. Of five sculptors who entered the competition, Frederick Warren Allen was awarded the project from sketches created in collaboration withHenry and Richmond, Architects. Mr. Allen was age 52 at the time and had long been head of the Sculpture Department at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. His design was the unanimous choice of the judges, Bishop Cassidy, and Maginnis & Walsh.
Church of the Advent, Boston, MA, 1931Church of the Advent, an Episcopal church on Beacon Hill in Boston, MA, was designed in 1875 by John Hubbard Sturgis in the Early English Gothic Style. The building was completed in 1888. Ralph Adams Cram (1863-1942) of Cram and Furguson, Architects, a prominent Gothic Revival architect at the turn of the century, designed for Advent the Lady Chapel (1894) to the right of the chancel, the reredos of All Saints Chapel (1907), the Great Rood (1925), and the West Portal (date?). The relief in the tympanum of the portal was the gift of Charles H. Fiske, created by Frederick Warren Allen in 1931 under Cram’s direction and installed over the double doors on Mt.Vernon Street in 1937. Architect Ralph Adams Cram also designed Cole Memorial Chapel at Wheaton College where Allen was commissioned to do a large stone memorial tablet and a portrait relief of the first Mrs. Cole. Both Cole Memorial Chapel and Church of the Advent are classic examples of Cram’s celebrated architecture.
NY County Courthouse Pediment, abt 1924Having won the confidence of Guy Lowell through collaboration on the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and several personal projects for the famous architect, Frederick Warren Allen won the competition to carry out the major project of designing a pediment and acroteria for Lowell's important courthouse to be built in New York City on Manhattan Island. Modeling small "sketches" for approval and then full size clay models from which his assistants worked, he supervised and participated in the final carving, sleeping on occasion in an excelsior-lined box high up in the roof of the building during the construction.
The grand hexagonal building was a huge project, taking many years to plan and construct. It was considered at the time to be the most imposing building in the United States. The pediment and acroteria alone took three years to complete. The 104' pediment, only sixteen feet high at the center, is ninety feet above the street, spanning the ten Corinthian style entry columns, each fifty-four feet in height, approached by a flight of thirty steps, 100 feet in width. (Photo by Wally Gobetz)
Elephant FountainFor J. Williams Beal, Architect
Memorial Tablet on Garden FountainFor J. Williams Beal, Architect
Keith Field Eagles, Brockton, MA, 1924The entry gate to the Eldon Keith Field in Brockton, MA is guarded by a pair of fierce eagles poised for attack atop their watchtowers. Open beaks warn intruders to beware while their wings are ready to spread in flight. They perch on orbs visible high against the sky. Given by George Keith, Eldon’s father, our symbol of American freedom stands guard, the memorial giving credit to a native son of Brockton, dedicated to serving on the School Board, who died on a U.S. Government mission in London in 1919. The commemorative plaque tells the story.
Roslindale War Memorial Design, 1920 scale model“The day of the tin-hat soldier in granite or bronze is past. But the day of memorials is not past, and never will be. We shall always be eager to commemorate brave deeds, whether of peace or war. War rouses a whole people more than any other single thing does, and so results in a greater crop of memorials.” In this newspaper article Allen laments the fact that committees choose the designs for memorials and that judges are often not “qualified to estimate their choices on artistic merit.” “We ought to make these commissions composed of the best talent in sculpture and general art that we can find” and pay them a salary for their expertise in a choice that educates public taste. Allen was “impressed and gratified” when the Roslindale committee said “We would like to get a war memorial for our town embodying symbolism rather than realism.” And so he made two studies, one of which is shown here.
Pediment of ArchersProspective model for Ralph Adams Cram, never placed
Relief for Residential Mantleby Guy Lowell, Architect
Memorial Plaque for Mt. Hope Cemetery
Boy with GoatskinOne of the charming children Allen created for classical fountains, this boy was chosen for the Piping Rock Club on the Gold Coast of Long Island, designed in 1911 by the architect Guy Lowell who had also designed the Evans Wing of the MFA. Allen would do more for him in the coming years. “The most famous of American country clubs” in its time (Country Clubs of America, C. P. Cushing, 1920), the beautiful gambrel-roofed classic with its columned porticos, white clapboards, and neat gardens, was in the best of colonial good taste. It was, however, a club for outdoor sports like riding, tennis and golf, so there may have been limited time spent enjoying the clubhouse itself and its beautiful gardens.
When the sculpture was shown at the first annual spring exhibition of the Guild of Boston Artists in 1915, a reviewer in the Boston Transcript (5/25/15) wrote that the “chubby boy figure … has humor.” Praise from the Boston Morning Herald, May 20, 1915 read, “Three bronzes are by Frederick W. Allen – a half size figure of a little boy holding a water skin under his arm which he presses against his side to expel the water – a motif as good as it is original.”