Carter Child, 1913

Portrait bust, cast in plaster
Miniature bust, cast in plaster

One of the women who selected Allen’s design for the DAR memorial for Capron Park in Attleboro was a Mrs. Carter. According to the Reference Librarian at the Attleboro Public Library, this was Mrs. Miles Carter or Marion Pierce Carter, who founded the Attleboro DAR in 1901. There is a large file of reference material on the Carter and Pierce families in the local library. She had a daughter whose name was Bernadetta (also sometimes listed as Bernadette), born December 6, 1904 and died April 1, 2003 in Fall River, MA. It can be safely assumed that the Carter child portrayed by Allen was Bernadetta who would have been about eight years old at the time. On his list of Prospective work for the Fall of 1912 is found a “Carter child relief,” followed by an X. Notes about a relief did not occur again, so the relief was likely never made. On “Commissions beginning September 1912” is listed a Carter child bust for $75. Perhaps this tells us that the bust was made in place of the relief. In a photo of the sculptor in his studio, there is a white bust of a little girl, presumably a plaster cast of Bernadetta Carter. She was a beautiful child.

The Carter bust commission is first recorded on 9/14/13. Work started on 9/21 and continued through November, the last sitting listed on the 30th. He perfected it during the month of December and took it to Torschi’s to be cast on the 21st.  The finished product complete, he delivered it to the Carters who telephoned to say how much they liked it.

F.W. Allen in his studio, with the Carter bust behind him.

A Carter Bust comes up again on April 16, 1913 and work on it began a few days later, “Brought up clay. Started Carter bust.” There was talk in May of an exchange of miniatures, a bust for a painting from an unnamed artist, perhaps Miles L. Carter, an artist, collector and historian. ­(Attleboro Sun obituary, 9/10/1946) Work continued  through May and three weeks into June. The child was sometimes challenging, causing problems in the sittings. One day he had to leave because “she would not pose and her Mother was away.” He returned, persevered and finally finished and made the cast on June 21st.

The messy work was done “down in the basement,” so it can be presumed the cast was one of plaster. The casting process can be an awkward task for one person. Allen’s daughter remembers her father rolling a bulky mold around in his studio as he would throw plaster against the inside surface to coat it evenly. For this bust, his friend Richard Recchia and a student named Robert assisted. Then in June (6/23) he notes, “Cast miniature bust and final of Carter sent.” At last, “Brought Carter bust home. Received cheque for my Carter.”

It is unclear, but it seems that there may have been two versions of Bernadetta, one full size and one miniature judging by the diary entries. The catalog of work by Agnes Allen lists the bust only once with no date.





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