Frederick Warren Allen

AMERICAN SCULPTOR, BOSTON SCHOOL

Architectural Collaboration

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.

Pegasus, the mythological winged horse, modeled in clay at his retirement home in Rumney, NH. Frederick Warren Allen, Sculptor, 1960

Created in the year before his winter death behind his home at the edge of the White Mountains in Rumney, New Hampshire, the retired master teacher was sculpting for his own pleasure. His granddaughter fondly remembers him standing outdoors in the good weather applying clay to the chicken wire armature he had built on a stand. A sculpture in the round from his imagination was coming into being, a mythological winged horse that sprang from the blood sinking into the earth from the severed head of Medusa. The creature breathes in life through its flared nostrils and open mouth and, with eyes wide, crouches from its hindquarters, one front leg bent, one braced, head and ears back, eager to take its first flight in its powerful new body. Pegasus has come alive!

Stylistically, this Pegasus is different from the sleek refined yet lively version of his Harvard Advocate Medallion from thirty years before. Gone is the formality of the requirements for good medallic art, gone is the mythological quality of the magnificent winged creature and gone is the flat format of art meant to be hung on a wall. Here is a breathing quivering tangible animal. You can almost feel the texture of the rough coat of hair on the body and the form of the muscles tense beneath the skin. The hair of the fetlocks hangs thickly over the hoof and the thick bushy tail curls sensuously behind him as it falls on the ground. The wings are stylized, overlapping and smooth. They look as if they are still unfurling at the tip of the “fingers, ” and the curve of the end of the uppermost and longest feathers echoes the shortest rounded feathers of the upper “arm” between the elbow and the shoulder.

Compositionally, the form is rectangular with the topmost edge of the wing parallel to the base. The wings are parallel to each other, ready to spread in flight and the hind legs are firmly planted at the width of the hips prepared to spring, thrusting the movement forward and upward along the angle of the body. The weight is almost all back on the hindquarters with the front legs already lifting off the ground and the head, neck and shoulders pulling the weight back from them. The head is pointed straight forward with the bridge of the nose in line with the top edge of the wings There are no twists in the body. Details create color in the surface texture of the hair coat, the short shorn mane, wrinkles in the skin below the jaw and bushy undulating tail. Asymmetry is created only in the front legs where the action is about to happen. The movement is clearly moving upward and outward, the mass of the wings and hindquarters balanced by the vibrating space that exists between the front hoof and the extended line of the box formed by the top, back and base of the whole.

Animal sculpture was clearly a part of Allen’s repertoire. His wife Agnes relates, “When about 15, he tried cutting a head in fieldstone – later got a chunk of marble and cut a horse’s head which thrilled him so he began to have visions of working as a hack sculptor for others.” While working as a studio assistant to Bela Pratt, he was responsible for sculpting the horses on two of Pratt’s monuments, the Lord Jeffrey Amherst and the Polo Pony. He studied animals as part of his anatomical training and taught animal sculpture to his students. One summer the Museum School catalog lists a trip to Franklin Park Zoo to observe and sketch them as part of Allen’s class. The School archives show an image of Allen instructing a student working on a sculpture of a horse.

Allen personally loved animals and took a great interest in wildlife and the family pets. His work includes several animals, not only the large horse figures for Pratt, but also a carved horse’s head, three eagles, two elephants, two flying horses, three frogs, small birds, a wolf, a pony, a turtle, a fish, a duck and a dolphin. Animals have always been part of sculpture. Allen was well schooled in their anatomy and took pleasure in portraying them. This Pegasus may be his last work.

Original clay cast in plaster and tinted pale terracotta
Size: Base is approx.10x20x 2, sculpture estimated 19Wx17Hx7D
Created in Rumney, NH at sculptor’s retirement home
Owned for a while by Allen’s grandson Eric. Broken when in his possession.
Repaired, recast and transferred to another family member.

Silvia and Margaret Evans, granddaughters of Nathaniel Hathaway, double portrait relief modeled in 1919 by Frederick Warren Allen, Sculptor. Other family portraits were modeled at the same time.

Nathaniel Hathaway of the prominent New Bedford family was the grandfather of these two beautiful children, Silvia and Margaret. Fred Allen had been invited to their Philadelphia home to visit and have photographs taken in preparation for modeling the family portraits. The home he visited in Germantown was at one time a “safe house” for the Underground Railroad. Nathaniel’s grandparents were Quaker Abolitionists and active with at least one of the Evans family in Philadelphia in sheltering a slave girl, transporting her from Germantown to their home in New Bedford.
(link to the letter from Gilder Lehrman Institute: http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/disp_textbook.cfm?smtID=3&psid=312)

At present count there are five portraits known to have been modeled of this family: Nathaniel, his wife Eliza, his daughter Susan, her son Edward, and Sylvia with Margaret, his granddaughters born of his other daughter Sylvia. The double portrait is a very sensitive and beautiful depiction of these little girls.

The children face toward the left in profile. They are expressive and different from one another. Little Margaret is a chubby-cheeked and curly headed toddler with individual curls and wisps of hair showing in front of her forehead. Silvia is older and slimmer in the face, her thin short hair lying flat with pointed strands around the forehead, her mouth parted as if about to speak. She has an expectant or attentive look. Her face covers the back half of Margaret so that the ear is not visible, uniting the two heads. There is clarity between the treatment of the smooth ground in front of the faces and in the dark contrasting lines of the profiles, yet the necks blend together so those two volumes don’t occupy the same space. The dresses also blend together to form another volume, heavily textured in contrast to the volume of the faces and collars above. The rhythm top to bottom is 1) decorative edge, 2) smooth ground, 3) textured details of hair and faces, 3) smooth volume of necks and collars, 4) textured volume of dresses, inscription and symbol, 5) grounding base of a horizontal three-banded shelf, and 6) smooth ground. The figures from the top of the head to the bottom of the shelf are centered between the upper and lower edges and although there is more space in front of the faces than behind the heads, the faces are centered side to side. The composition is simple and masterful.

Both girls wear smocked dresses, details suggestive rather that realistic, with gathered dress bodices and smooth collars upturned at the points and lying flat on the back. Silvia sports crisp starched cotton puffy sleeves with a beaded appearance to the smocking under the smooth collar, and Margaret’s dress clearly shows cross-hatched tooling that suggests a plaid fabric

They are “placed” on a three-tiered shelf that does not extend all the way across, the bodies ending above the waist on wide bases. The shape of the whole frame is rectangular with a gently arched top, decorated with a thin architectural patterned molding under a narrow rounded band that extends a little at the edges past the vertical borders into which they fade at the top, leaving the side edges with only a slightly raised line. There are three 4-sided rosettes at the top center and corners, the triplet repeated in the molding of the base.

The ground is mostly smooth with some horizontally combed tool markings at the lower side edges and behind Silvia’s head and body with smoothed-out horizontal combings all across. The markings at the top under the molding are vertical and short with the suggestion of a pattern of squares.

In composition, the figures and shelf are slightly off center, but the faces form the center and the focus of attention. There is high contrast in the shadows and highlights of the faces. The hair is clearly drawn in the details, and the dresses tactile with the texture of the crisp smocked cotton.

There is high contrast between the details of the hair above, the dresses below and the faces, with the smoothness of the planes of their faces, necks and collars framing them. There is a repeating rhythm of the parallel faces, the matching collars and the textured bases formed by the two bodies, anchored in the width of the bodies where they meet the shelf on which they sit. St.Gaudens said that the ground is part of the composition, here there are elements of an etching in the ground treatment which effectively unite the figures within the whole.

The children are beautifully depicted in a high contrast low relief. The whole is clearly influenced by the St. Gaudens style. Compare to The Children of Prescott Hall Butler.
(Ref. p191 in catalog of his work in publication by Musée Augustins, Toulouse.) In an entry initialed E.H. is the last paragraph:
“Always in his portraits of children, Saint-Gaudens emphasizes the round cheeks and prominent upper lip. We cannot help but be touched by the freshness of this double portrait, which makes us forget the worldly nature of the commission.”

There was great controversy in the late 1800’s about the subject of “finish.” Rodin would leave his carvings in this state, the figures or faces emerging from rough marble. In the days of Augustus St. Gaudens, the subject was hotly debated regarding the techniques he and other sculptors used in relief carving that were “sketchy” in appearance, more like paintings in clay. St. Gaudens argued passionately about his view that a piece of art need not be polished to be finished and that a sketchy appearance didn’t mean that the piece was incomplete. In his opinion , a work should be “judged on its character or effect, rather than on its degree of technical completion.” And that it “did not have to reach of point of belabored smoothness or detail to be worthy.” (Tolles) In that regard, look at the dresses of the Evans girls. They are freely modeled without regard for he details. The character of the children is the thing that is important, and here the point is clearly demonstrated. Allen’s compositional refinements here demonstrate his masterful touch.

Double portrait relief
Plaster cast, assuming that at least two were cast since one is visible in the sculptor’s studio.
The inscription at the lower left above the “shelf” reads
“Margaret Evans at the age of two years (scrolling lines) Silvia Hathaway Evans at the age of three years. “ Note the spelling of Silvia.
There is no signature or date visible in the photograph.
A symbol at the lower right about level with the inscription looks like a Shinto temple over a square and compass or marker with a needle pointing down from the center like a scale. Underneath looks like a broken square for measuring.

Nathaniel Hathaway of New Bedford (1858-1916), “Commodore at the Wheel” by Frederick Warren Allen, Sculptor, 1918, an unusually low relief cast in bronze.

Squinting into the fog at the wheel of his boat, Commodore Nathaniel Hathaway (1858-1916 ) peers forward, intent on guiding his craft to its destination. His big hand holds a grip of his wooden spoke wheel as he leans toward his right, his large frame bent to the task. The strength of his character shows in the look on his face and the strength of his physical body shows in the volume of the square head, thick neck and broad shoulders. Details give him personality. Look at the shape of his cap, the bushy mustache and the cleft chin. He is a handsome man. His advancing age is suggested in the wrinkles around his eyes and the slightly sagging skin beneath his chin. Allen has captured a moment in the life of Nathaniel Hathaway and said something about his personality.

Nathaniel’s family were wealthy, powerful and respected citizens, China trade merchants and businessmen in New Bedford. He was the grandson of Nathaniel Hathaway and Anna Shoemaker, Quakers and Abolitionists who were active in the Underground Railway both there and in Philadelphia. The extended family owned a home in Germantown, PA where they had roots and where Nathaniel’s wife Eliza Gardner Vandervere died. The graves of Nathaniel and Eliza were found in Cutchogue Long Island where their forebears had sought refuge from religious persecution in Holland.

Only close study turning it in the light reveals the incredible amount of detail present in relief that is in some places only a faint line in the original clay with no elevation at all. Augustus Saint-Gaudens, in the generation of sculptors before Allen, and perhaps the most significant master and innovator of bas-relief technique, said that the lowest relief he was ever able to accomplish was 1/8”. (S.N.Carter in the Art Journal, see St.Gaudens collection of essays p.61-2) “St.G’s profound contribution to relief sculpture was evident in the work of his students and admirers, prompting further experimentation and refinement.” (Thayer Tolles from Heilbrunn Timeline essays) Allen was one of those in his legacy, assisting Bela L.Pratt who was assistant to St. Gaudens. So he experimented with low relief executing details that created dimension and texture successfully in less than 1/8” of depth.

Look at the details in the skipper’s yacht cap and you can see the soft construction of the crown over the hard head strap, the small bill and the suggestion of the patch of a front emblem holding up the center front above the decorative band that buttons at the temples. Faint horizontal lines suggest a braid trim. Below the temples the short hair is ruffled by the wind and a wisp of it is lifted above and behind the ear in a naturalistic style. Individual hairs can be seen in the mustache. The ear itself and the fine nose are delicately modeled. Light bounces off the planes of the head and neck in contrast to the richness of the details found in the face. The coat with its thick lapels and top-stitched edge drawn up tight is open at the neck enough to see the shape of the collar, buttoned close above what could be the front of a sweater. The fabric on the forward arm is softly wrinkled at the lifted elbow.

One of St.Gaudens’ trademarks was the inclusion of an inscription, which you see here in Allen’s work in the upper right, Hathaway’s name and dates cradled by crossed branches. Behind the inscription, the ground surface is textured with combed lines that extend almost from the top of the relief to just above the solid band of the base. On the opposite side, the ground is almost smooth and the ship’s wheel barely visible, suggesting the fog through which the Commodore and his yacht are progressing. Low relief “deals with aspects rather than with facts, and its exercise calls for the highest powers of perception and execution which the artist possesses.” (Kenyon Cox from Old Masters and New: Essays in Art Criticism )

Compositionally, this little relief is interesting. Elizabeth McLean-Smith, in her “portrait” of her teacher quotes him saying, “’A sculptor must constantly think in three dimensions, not just of one view or in one plane. Actually the sculptor’s most difficult task is . . . in designing the composition.’ Every possible view must be considered and given character and structure,” she was taught. So he used perspective to establish depth. The forward arm is large in proportion to the head, seen as being farther away. The modeling on the edge of the sleeve is done so it looks as if you could see inside it, the details of the sewn construction on the edges and seams catching light and the hollow of the sleeve dark and without detail. The elbow lifts up above the base and looks as if it were protruding over it by blurring the solid edge under it.
Balancing the details on the right of the relief is the open space that fills the left side. A diagonal line moves from the elbow in the lower right corner up through the leaning frame of the body through the light-catching chin and disappears into the upper left corner. The arc of the partial ships wheel fills the lower left corner with the spokes of the wheel and the right arm and left lapel creating diagonals in the other direction. The whole is grounded by the solids of the horizontal planes of the narrow base and left forearm. The detailed head is given importance by its central position in the upper half.

In his diary, Allen notes on May 14, 1918 on a trip to Philadelphia, that he “Went to Hathaways and had photos taken of children on Friday.” He further notes in his November 15th entry, that he started working on the Hathaway relief. Allen was creating many bas-reliefs that year which included a charming double portrait of those children, his granddaughters, one of his wife and perhaps one of his daughter. Compare the reliefs of Hovey, Etheldreda, Clark, Shuman and the Art Student, all done in the same year. Portraits were the lifeblood of a sculptor, but more importantly, this represents Allen’s experimentation and growing mastery over a very difficult art form.

Bas-relief, ¾ view
Bronze plaque, dark brown patina
8 5/8W x 6 1/2H x 1/8” thick at the frame edge.
No signature or foundry mark
Dated by references in the Allen Diary and in a news article about an exhibit at the Guild of Boston Artists.
Portrait raised less than 1/8”
Schiacciatto technique
Sold for $150
Given as a gift to her brother Robert F. Horner in New Castle, N.H. (date unknown) by the sculptor’s wife Agnes. Her calling card or stationery header on the back reads in her handwriting, “A little Momento from Fred to the Commodore.” Possession transferred to Agnes’ granddaughter Christina in the summer of 2010.
There may be another copy owned by the Hathaway family along with the following two reliefs which may have been made at the same time and are both missing:
Mrs. Hathaway in profile
(listed in incomes after the 11/15/18 entry as sold for $300)
Evans children (Hathaway family, Philadelphia) Nathaniel’s granddaughters
(in Agnes Allen’s list of work, listed in both 1918 and 1919, on list of incomes after 11/15/18 entry as Evans $400)

Roslindale War Memorial Design, 1920 scale model

November 8, 2015

“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 [...]

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Nancy Richmond, relief, 1918

November 8, 2015

A 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 [...]

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Duck Boy, about 1924

November 4, 2015

Cornelius 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 [...]

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Eros, about 1924

November 4, 2015

Arthur 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 [...]

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Trinity Church Memorial Tablet, 1922

November 2, 2015

Recognized 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 [...]

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Kershaw Estate, “Merrywood,” Marlborough, NH.

October 5, 2015

The Kershaw estate has a tantalizing history with a murder involved. For that story, read online or in print the story of Stone Pond, A Personal History by William D. Eddy, The Plain White Press, 1988. Included are the stories of the opulent and mysterious George Bigelow Chase, a Boston and Dedham Episcopalian. Next the [...]

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Owl, c.1939

September 28, 2015

One of two reviewers commented in the Boston Sunday Post, Aug 20, 1939, “Frederick W. Allen, well-known not only as a gifted sculptor but as an excellent teacher, is represented by four notable pieces, a delightfully decorative owl, somewhat stylized, an elephant of granite, greatly simplified but decidedly convincing, a small head study in granite, [...]

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Head of a Young Girl, c.1939-1957

September 28, 2015

‘Head of a Young Girl’ was kept in profile upon the sill of the stained glass window crafted by Connick, in Allen’s Tavern Road studio. Filtered through the gold and browns, the outside light fell upon the head giving it a quality of mystery. “Like the other stones, he came back to it after a [...]

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Frederick Graham Allen, 1936

September 23, 2015

In this portrait, Frederick Graham was a boy of about 12. He was the fourth child, born February 2, 1923 when the family was still living in Brookline. In 1936 they were living and going to school in Concord and spending summers in North Haven. Father Allen wasn’t keeping his diary and hadn’t been since [...]

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Jane McIntosh Allen, 1949

September 23, 2015

It was an exciting year for the Allen family. Both boys married. Gordon the older of the two was the first, joined in May to Jane McIntosh of New York City (1920-2014). A pretty, smart girl, she had already graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1942 when she met her future husband, a medical student [...]

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Pegasus Medallion, 1929

September 4, 2015

“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 [...]

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Head of a Woman, pink granite, abt 1959

February 26, 2011

“Got a few minutes? Let’s go look for rocks,” Lewis Haskell, the venerable North Haven Island native and historian remembers Fred Allen saying. They would walk along the shore and he would point to a stone and have Lewis look at it to see if he could see anything in it. Head of a Woman [...]

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Cole Family, Wheaton College, 1926-1928

February 20, 2011

It was the vision of Samuel Valentine Cole to make Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts a four-year college from a a seminary for women, and thus he became one of the most important figures in its history. Noticed by Mrs. Wheaton when still a minister, she appointed him as a trustee in 1893. He worked [...]

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Chapel of St. Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio, Marlborough, NH, 1926

February 13, 2011

The 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 [...]

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World War Memorial, Dedham, MA, 1932

January 10, 2011

“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 [...]

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George Washington Monument, Fall River, MA, 1942

December 27, 2010

The 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 [...]

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Church of the Advent, Boston, MA, 1931

December 25, 2010

As a memorial to the men of the Church of the Advent who died in World War I, a stone sculpture was ordered to be placed over the West Portal of the Episcopal church on Beacon Hill in Boston, MA. The project was planned by Cram and Ferguson, architects. A gift of Charles H. Fiske, [...]

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MFA Evans Wing Granite Relief “Painting” 1914

December 25, 2010

In 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 [...]

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New York County Supreme Courthouse, Manhattan, Acroteria Statues, abt 1924

December 18, 2010

The grand edifice housing the New York County Supreme Court in Manhattan was designed by Guy Lowell, Architect. He chose Frederick Warren Allen to create the sculptural elements to adorn the entrance to the building. Above the triangular pediment stand three acroteria, statues in-the-round on pedestals. Each is at least thirteen feet high. The central figure at the [...]

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New York County Courthouse Pediment, New York Supreme Court, abt 1924

December 15, 2010

Having 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 [...]

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