Frederick Warren Allen


Important People he Knew and Portrayed

An artist skilled in creating likenesses of people is in demand when the economic times are conducive to buying art. Frederick Warren Allen was very skilled and so met many important people who wanted a portrait created. Until the wars and the Great Depression changed the times in dramatic ways, he was commissioned to create many portrait reliefs and portrait busts. Living in Concord MA during the school year and North Haven Island in the summer brought him into contact with people of privilege. As a part of the art community in Boston connected to the Museum of Fine Arts, he met patrons of the arts.

Eliza Vanderveer was related to the Dutch Quakers who found refuge from religious persecution on the land in Long Island Sound. They sought out quiet uninhabited areas to be alone to practice what they believed. The islands allowed them to separate themselves from mainstream. New Bedford and the area along the shores of New England and New Jersey became enclaves and the movement spread inland to Pennsylvania.

One belief they held that caused much trouble for them was that holding slaves was not Christian. Their anti-slavery views were at the core of the Abolitionist Movement in which the Hathaways were active. The Colonial colony of Germantown on the outskirts of Philadelphia was the location of the first formal protest against slavery in 1688. That was where Eliza had a family home which became a second residence for herself and her husband Nathaniel Hathaway. She lived there until her death at which time the property was turned into a large apartment complex and named the Hathaway House. Both Nathaniel and Eliza returned to their roots on Long Island where they were buried in the town of Cutchogue.

Eliza and Nathaniel had two daughters, Susan and Sylvia. Sylvia married Attorney Harold Evans whose own family were Abolitionists during the days of the Underground Railroad. Their daughter Susan married Edward Day Thurston in Germantown with whom she had a son and named him after his father and grandfather. Sadly he died in his third year and the grief-stricken couple moved to Sharon in Litchfield County Connecticut where they buried him at Hillside Cemetery and lived out their days.

There is a portrait of Allen taken in his studio, probably about 1920 judging by the eighteen sculptures around him. On the wall behind him seems to be a family grouping of bas-relief portraits. If that is so, then some of the work may be identifiable. In the center are two double portraits one of which is the little Evans girls. In the second the children appear to be a little older, so probably the children of Dr. Swift (1919).

On either side of them are portraits of two different women and below the woman on the right is a small round portrait of a baby. Without photographs for identification, one must make an educated guess. The woman on the left is older than the one on the right, so that may be Nathaniel Hathaway’s wife Eliza. The one on the right is a younger woman and below her is the baby, presumed to be little Edward Day Thurston who was sculpted by Allen in 1919. Because the baby is below the younger woman, the guess would be that Allen hung them that way because he was the woman’s son, or Susan Thurston. In his list of work, there is a Thurston relief dated 1919 for $500. No relief of Susan Thurston is mentioned specifically. The Thurston Baby Boy is recorded.

Portrait reliefs cast in plaster
Baby Edward may have been cast in bronze.

Etheldreda Hovey Kleis or Klyce, a paper rubbing from the original portrait relief modeled in 1917 by Frederick Warren Allen, Sculptor. Etheldreda was the sister of Ensign Charles Emerson Hovey.

Etheldreda Downing Hovey (1880-1917) was the wife of Horace Scudder Klyce (Americanized from Kleis), a controversial philosopher, scientist and Naval officer. She was one of 5 children, the daughter of Henry Emerson Hovey and Sarah Louise Folsom. Her only brother, Charles Emerson Hovey, died at age 26 in the Philippines while serving in the U.S.Navy in 1911. His portrait memorial relief and two commemorative plaques by F.W. Allen are on the base of the Hovey Fountain in Prescott Park, Portsmouth, NH. Etheldreda was born in Brooklyn, NY, married Klyce in 1908 in Portsmouth, NH, had one child, Stephen and died in 1917 at age 37 in Winchester, MA. Her husband remarried and had two more children. ( The cause of her death is unpublished, but the Howells suggested that she experienced a great deal of sadness.

What an emotional portrayal this portrait is! The eyes are the first thing one notices. They are penetrating and expressive. One looks sad, dreary and deep, the other is bright, open and realistic. The attitude of the head, slightly tipped at the neck and turned on the line of the shoulders, expresses vulnerability while the bone structure of her face, her strong square jaw and broad forehead show her strength and bravery. Yet the clear lines of her gathered mouth and slack jaw behind it gives the appearance that she is holding back her tears. Her small nose is straight at the bridge and the philtrum below is shapely. Such depth and contrast in such a shallow relief! And although this is just a rubbing of the missing bronze portrait, the skill it took to produce a work that translates even onto a rubbing is remarkable. It looks like a painting in clay with the expert tooling of the wisps of hair in the loose puffed up-do of the time. The texture of the hair around her face balances the smoothness of her skin and almost looks like a crown. Her long slender neck is elegant with the simple contours extending down below her collarbone and showing a bit of the flesh of her shoulders and chest. Look at the delicate lacy fabric of her dress with the irregular edge of her bodice showing off her beautiful smooth neck and skin. Her marriage was not happy, she bore only one child and she died tragically. This is a soft feminine portrait showing emotion and sensitivity to the lovely woman’s plight.

Lace detail from Wisdom by Daniel Chester French, later cast as a bronze door for the Boston Public Library. Compare with Allen’s Etheldreda.

Centered at the bottom is her name, ETHELDREDA, raised in simple large capitol letters. Allen’s signature and date are at the bottom right.

The background of this vertical composition is plain rather than textured as in the related Hovey portrait. The narrow frames on both portraits are little more than a simple rolled edge. As a comparison with Daniel Chester French, an older contemporary, compare the fine tooling of the lace with that on the figure of Wisdom on the large bronze doors for the Boston Public Library. Compare the attitude of the head and the treatment of the hair from French’s relief of an artist. Allen would have learned by looking at French’s work “close up.”

Allen and French were both residents of Concord, MA and knew each other at the Concord Art Association In fact, French praised the Metropolitan Museum for having the foresight to purchase Allen’s Torso of a Dancing Girl that was so celebrated when it was shown in Boston in 1914. The Archives of American Art records in an undated news article that French wrote “a letter expressing his gratification that the museum in New York has obtained so admirable a work.”

There are some interesting coincidences between the families of the Howells and Allens. William Dean Howells was modeled by St. Gaudens who was introduced to him by his brother-in-law who was also a sculptor. St. Gaudens was Pratt’s teacher and Pratt was Allen’s teacher. The Howells lived in Kittery Point, ME and the brother of Allen’s wife lived across the river in New Castle, NH. The families were friends then as their offspring are today. William Dean Howells was Editor of Harpers Magazine and Allen’s cousin, Frederick Lewis Allen, was Editor of Harpers after Howells. F.W.Allen and F.L.Allen were both named after grandfather F.Deane Allen. The family friend, Dean Howells, was named after his grandfather W.Dean Howells.

Artist by Daniel Chester French shown as a comparison to Allen’s Etheldreda. Photographed at Chesterwood in Stockbridge, MA.

William Dean Howells (1837-1920), known as “The Dean of American Letters” was at the center of American literary culture for over fifty years. His grandson Dean went to Harvard with Agnes Allen’s nephew, Henry Horner, son of her brother Robert. They became fast friends at their homes across the Piscataqua River, the Howells in Kittery Point and the Horners in New Castle. The families have remained friends and stay in touch both in their summer homes and in winters in Washington, DC.
New Castle is the place where the renown Boston School artist Edmund Tarbell had his summer home in which he painted many of his famous works. In New Castle he gave summer classes by the water with Frank Benson, our best known American Impressionist painter. Together they created a stage scene on canvas depicting the entrance to the historic Revolutionary Fort William and Mary which can be seen on a point of land just beyond the Horner/Hart home on the shores of the Piscataqua. The painting was found by Nancy Horner Borden, President of the New Castle Historical Society, hanging on the Town Hall stage behind other curtains. It is on display at the Historical Society. Tarbell’s son Edmund is also a friend of the Horner family from when they both summered in New Castle. Sally Horner Smyser and her husband Richard spend their winters in Washington, DC where they socialize with the Howells. One summer day, Dean sped across the river to The Anchor, the old Horner summer home, to deliver a copy of a rubbing of his Aunt Etheldreda to Allen’s granddaughter, Christina Abbott, who often spent summer weekends there. In a note to her afterward Dean mentions that Allen modeled Hovey’s portrait before his death.

In researching the bas-relief among family members, he was unable to locate the original bronze, but this paper rubbing suffices to show the sensitivity of the modeling of this woman’s sadness.

Portrait relief
Presumed to have been cast in bronze sold for $100.
Signed and dated in the bottom right corner: F.W.Allen 1917

Charles Emerson Hovey, a bronze portrait relief of the war hero from Portsmouth, NH affixed to the edge of a fountain base dedicated to him in Prescott Park across from Strawberry Banke. Frederick Warren Allen, Sculptor, 1918.

There is a relationship between the portrait reliefs of Ensign Charles Emerson Hovey (1885-1911) and Etheldreda Downing Hovey Klyce (1880-1917) both by family and by date. William W. Howells, the grandson of the celebrated novelist and editor, William Dean Howells, a good friend of Mark Twain, was married to Muriel Gurdon Seabury who was the daughter of the Portsmouth Rector Henry Emerson Hovey. Etheldreda and Charles were her aunt and uncle. Both reliefs were created in 1917-1918. Etheldreda had died in 1913 and Charles in 1911.

The Howells had bought a summer home in 1902 on the Piscataqua River in Kittery Point, Maine. The property was across the water from the island of New Castle off the coast of Portsmouth and near the Isles of Shoals, both havens for the literati and artists of the Boston Brahmin social network. The Howells were benefactors of Portsmouth. Muriel was very involved with Portsmouth’s historic Strawberry Banke and later with Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. “Muriel Howells fought her first battle for historic preservation in Portsmouth by relocating a fountain, dedicated to her uncle Charles Emerson Hovey, from a downtown location to here at Prescott Park.” (Strawberry Banke by J.Dennis Robinson, 2007, p. 198 and Portsmouth News, 6 Sep 1986)

Ensign Hovey was a war hero, born in Portsmouth and killed in the Philippines in 1911. He is portrayed proudly by his family in his dress uniform with two accompanying lettered commemorative plaques, all by F.W.Allen, whose signature appears at the bottom right corner of the portrait with the date it was made, “fecit 1918.” The dignified portrayal is on an uplifting fountain dedicated to him at the entrance to busy Prescott Park on the river where there are many tourists and residents to appreciate his sacrifice.

How the family came to hire Frederick Allen is unknown, but according to Muriel’s son Dean, by 1918 he was well known in art circles in Boston, New Castle, and North Haven, ME for creating accurate likenesses in a style like Augustus St. Gaudens and Bela Pratt. For that reason he would have been sought after for his work. Pratt had died in 1917, so the next best choice would have been Allen. One reviewer in a news article (date and publication unclear) says, “In refinement and closeness of characterization it is much in the same class with this artist’s very remarkable portrait in the present guild exhibition.” If this references the relief in the opening show of the Guild of Boston Artists, then the relief is that of Caleb Arnold Slade. (Also note that the reviewer published his name incorrectly. The subject is Charles Emerson Hovey, not Clarence F. Hovey.)

One of two commemorative plaques for the sides of the Hovey Fountain in Prescott Park, Portsmouth, NH, describing the service and death of Ensign Charles Emerson Hovey. His portrait relief is center front. F.W. Allen, Sculptor, 1918.

St. Gaudens was an innovator in the difficult art of the bas relief. It is clear that Allen studied his work carefully and used many of his techniques. With the inspiration from St. Gaudens and Pratt combined with his own outstanding technical skill and innate aesthetic sense, he produced many wonderful portrait reliefs.

The memorial to Ensign Hovey in his Navy dress uniform is dignified as befits a hero. Allen believed it was important in times of war and remembering war casualties, to be uplifting. The setting in the park (moved here in 1980) overlooking the water of the Piscataqua River in Portsmouth and the historic gundalow cargo vessel beyond at the dock on the right highlights the history of the city as well as its hero. The Hovey Fountain with water spurting upward from the fish in the hand of a young man in his prime boosts the spirit.

An image from a newspaper article in the Archives of American Art (perhaps the original clay) shows more of the body in uniform and more width at the shoulders giving the illusion of looking up to him rather than directly at him. The bronze is cut shorter at the bottom and narrower at the shoulders. There were two copies made, so the photo from 1918 may be one of the second bronze or more likely the original in clay.

Lively surface activity characterized St. Gaudens’ work and here you see Allen use of that aesthetic here not only in the groundwork behind the head, but also in the tactile quality of the coat and the details of the hair above his ear. Contrasting with the textural elements is the smoothness of the skin, which lifts his face out of the dark background into the light, gives the relief “color” and makes him shine.

News article about the portrait relief of Ensign Charles Emerson Hovey created in 1918 by F. W. Allen, Sculptor. Note that the name and rank of the officer has been incorrectly published here. (publication name and date unknown)

St. Gaudens said “Remember that your background is your atmosphere, and part of the composition, and that the composition should extend from edge to edge of the frame.” (The Reminiscences of Augustus Saint-Gaudens (Vol.2) by Homer St.Gaudens, 1913) Compositionally, note here the technique of the horizontally tooled striations above the shoulders that extend out to the squared edge of the frame repeated in the vertical striations in the braid on his uniform. The technique suggests the brush strokes of a painting. The painter John La Farge encouraged his friend St. Gaudens to treat a bas-relief like a painting in clay.

Note that the shoulders are a different texture from that of the ground surface layer and extend out beyond the side edges as if there were no boundaries to contain them. Bringing the body out beyond the frame brings the subject out to the viewer and the viewer into the art.

The anchor pins at the collar make a statement about Hovey’s status as well as his character. It is a detail without words that has a psychological impact. Here was a hero to be honored for his naval service to his country and to his seaside City of Portsmouth.

The lettering on the two plaques on either side of the fountain reads, “Ensign Hovey was graduated from the U. S. Naval Academy 1907 and ordered to the Philippines 1910. He was commanding a detachment of men from the U.S.S. ”Pampanga” in pursuit of outlaw Moros in the island of Basilan when his party was ambushed and he himself mortally wounded.” The second reads, “In memory of Charles Emerson Hovey Ensign, United States Navy Born in this city January 10, 1885 Killed in action Philippine Islands September 24, 1911 — Son of Reverend Henry Emerson Hovey and Louise Folsom Hovey”

Portrait relief, 2 copies cast in bronze, dark patina.
Two lettered plaques cast in bronze.
Signed bottom right corner F.W.Allen fecit 1918
Location on the fountain at the entrance to Prescott Park, Portsmouth, NH and in a private collection. One recorded as sold for $100.
Published in the Portsmouth News 6 Sep 1989

Henry Ware Clarke, 1919

November 4, 2015

Henry Ware Clark (1893-1918) was a war hero, a Second Lieutenant in the First Division of the Sixteenth Infantry killed in action by shrapnel in Cantigny, France on May 28, 1918. An eye-witness recounts, “He was commanding a platoon of machine guns, and putting on indirect fire during the attack, and he had not been [...]

Read the full article →

Robert Archey Woods, 1927

November 1, 2015

Born into a family with an immigrant background, spiritual interests and a social conscience, Robert Archey Woods took the plight of the poor and disadvantaged to heart. After his father’s death when he was just a young man of fifteen, he turned to his mother, herself an Irish immigrant, for advice. Education was important to [...]

Read the full article →

Francis Stewart Kershaw, 1930

October 5, 2015

“He was a tall, well-dressed, dignified man. He had a well-waxed mustache and a Van Dyke beard and wore glasses. He was proud of the ownership of Merrywood and kept it always looking neat and well-tended. He was somewhat autocratic, as was his wife. He was very much respected and well-liked by all.” (From Stone [...]

Read the full article →

Woodrow Wilson, 1940

September 23, 2015

“He was an American of Americans. He was a patriot whose patriotism was tested by fire. With the possible exception of Thomas Jefferson, Woodrow Wilson was the keenest analytical mind that has ever occupied the White House. With the possible exceptions of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, he stands without a peer as a patriot [...]

Read the full article →

Charles Jay Connick, between 1924-1933

September 21, 2015

May 27, 1933 Dear Connick: I saw at the Boston Art Club, a bust of you carved in wood. I think I have never seen a more perfect likeness of anyone in any medium. I think it is a marvelous thing. Allen certainly deserves enormous credit for the artistic qualities of it and you are [...]

Read the full article →

John Wingate Weeks, 1931

September 4, 2015

Without John Wingate Weeks (1860-1926) we would not have the White Mountain National Forest. The Weeks Act was signed into law in 1911. Since that date nearly 20 million acres of forestland have been protected. “No single law has been more important in the return of the forests to the eastern United States” than the [...]

Read the full article →

John Bradley Storrs, 1913

March 31, 2013

Portrait relief modeled in Paris in 1913 in clay, bronze cast believed to have been made, size unknown but approximately life size, location unknown, unsigned. Photograph taken in Paris in 1913, identified on back side with Storrs name, date and photographer. A death mask of Storr’s mother was taken in Paris in 1913 by Allen, [...]

Read the full article →

C. Arnold Slade, 1913

May 9, 2011

Bas-relief portrait, 13.5 in x 11.25 in, Cast in plaster and bronze, Exhibited at the Guild of Boston Artists 1913 Attleboro, Massachusetts was the connecting link between these two artists and their wives. Both couples stayed connected to Attleboro over the years, visiting their parents who continued to live there. Caleb Arnold Slade had been [...]

Read the full article →

Charles L. Eustis, Bronze, 1922

May 1, 2011

Charles Lyman Eustis must have been one of those legendary Maine characters, fiercely independent and self sufficient, living off the land, working hard, fishing and hunting for his dinner and working from dawn to dusk. At the young age of 20 he had enough of a pioneering spirit to move up from Lewiston to the [...]

Read the full article →

Abraham Lincoln, Bronze, 1922

May 1, 2011

Who would have known that Abraham Lincoln‘s lineage goes back to the 1630′s in New England? His son, Robert Todd Lincoln did and, attaching a sentimental value to those origins, funded this very fine memorial to his father to be placed in the New England Historic Genealogical Society‘s building when it was at Ashburton Place [...]

Read the full article →

Senator James P. Timilty, 1937

March 12, 2011

“With tools of loyalty and understanding he carved himself a niche in our community,” reads the inscription under the portrait relief of Senator James P. Timilty (1865-1921) that was unveiled at the dedication of the new Timilty Middle School in Roxbury, MA in 1937. Mayor Malcolm Mansfield, Police Commissioner Timilty, and Chairman Sullivan of the [...]

Read the full article →

Boston Mayors Peters, Nichols and Mansfield, 1921-1937

March 12, 2011

Andrew J. Peters (1872-1938) was the 42nd Mayor of Boston when his portrait was cast in bronze by Frederick Warren Allen in 1921. His term ended the next year, but he liked the plaque so well that he ordered one for himself! Notice in the enlargement the realistic details of the bushy eyebrows, the thin [...]

Read the full article →

Abraham Shuman, bronze, 1918

March 7, 2011

“Far seeing merchant, citizen, sage, counsellor and administrator, constant friend of humanity,” reads the inscription. Abraham Shuman was a philanthropist who made his fortune in the clothing business and helped the poor by donating generously to the Boston City Hospital. He served on the City Hospital Board of Trustees for fifteen years, part of that time [...]

Read the full article →

LeBaron Russell Briggs, marble and bronze, 1934 and 1937

March 6, 2011

A death masque was taken on April 26, 1934 of LeBaron Russell Briggs (1855-1934) by the sculptor Frederick Warren Allen. “He was an important man!” remembers the eldest Allen daughter. A big committee had been formed at Harvard College to choose an artist to create a likeness of their beloved Dean and representatives of the [...]

Read the full article →

Carl N. Van Ness, bronze, abt 1920

February 27, 2011

The summer residents on North Haven Island recognized that over in Bartlett’s Harbor there was a bohemian colony of artists. The two groups didn’t socialize much together, the artists being absorbed in their work and isolating themselves to allow their creative juices to flow. Of the artists who lived in the colony or visited there, [...]

Read the full article →

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 [...]

Read the full article →

Dean John P. Sutherland, BU School of Medicine, 1937

February 21, 2011

A bronze bas-relief portrait to honor Dr. John Preston Sutherland was presented the the Boston University School of Medicine by his students in the Evans Memorial Auditorium in the Fall of 1937. The sculptor, it was announced, was Frederick W. Allen. Boston University opened its first medical school (homeopathic) on November 5, 1873. By 1899, [...]

Read the full article →

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 [...]

Read the full article →

Bernard M. Keyes, 1928

January 10, 2011

A painter, Bernard M. Keyes (1898-1973) was trained at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts where he was mentored by Frank W. Benson. He also studied at Harvard University’s Fogg Art Museum where he was awarded a traveling scholarship. Upon his return in 1922 he began to teach painting classes at the SMFA. Allen [...]

Read the full article →

Frank Weston Benson, 1923

January 9, 2011

Frank Weston Benson (1862 – 1951) This amazing bas relief of Allen’s colleague Frank W. Benson is only 1.9 cm. That’s 3/4 of an inch! The coin-sized medallion was a gift of the Barbarossa family to the Museum of Fine Arts. F.W.Allen’s skill in creating such definition in such low relief and in such a small [...]

Read the full article →