Allen identifies some of his work in his diary as “ideal.” The term used in sculpture sometimes refers to the artistically presented subjects from mythology or allegory that were used decoratively in 18th and 19th century homes.
“Drawing on the methodologies of cultural studies–in particular studies of consumption, cultural biography, and material culture — I explore the role ideal sculpture played in sacralizing and sentimentalizing the nineteenth-century American home, and in constructing concepts of family, nationality, gender, race and class that were fundamental to individuals’ understandings, and public presentations, of themselves.” 1
Statuary and portraits such as these would have been in the Greek or Roman Neo-Classic style in posture and raiment. Wealthy patrons would sometimes have family portraits made in this Classic style (see info on his bust of Mrs. John S. Lawrence). ”Ideal” can also refer to a figure or face with perfect proportions as determined by very specific guidelines thought to be consistent with the highest ideals of beauty. Having been trained in the Beaux Arts style, many of the early works Allen created were consistent with the traditional Paris teachings and the tenets of the “Ideal,” and some crossed the line into the more modern impressionistic style. He experimented with his own variations and enjoyed creating from his imagination.
1 “Presiding Divinities: Ideal Sculpture in Nineteenth Century American Domestic Interiors” Dissertation: Lessing, Lauren Keach