‘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 number of years; it was the last on which he worked. One can see where he was in the process of changing the nose and the left cheek to bring it ever closer to his mental concept. Even in this interim state it is supremely sensitive. There is a quietness and yet a look of hope. And how skillfully he had used the asymmetry of the stone in carving the hair or drapery – whichever it may be. The interpretation is left to the eye of the beholder – the mystery remains, undoubtedly by intention.” (from “Frederick Warren Allen: Sculptor, Teacher, Friend by Elizabeth McLean-Smith, F.N.S 1963)
Chiseled out of the beautiful pink granite of Vinalhaven Island off the mid-coast of Maine, this female head is one of two fashioned from a type of granite that was risky to carve. It was a popular stone for use in building, however, being of high quality. Vinalhaven became one of Maine’s largest quarrying centers for the century after it was discovered in 1826, blocks for building being shipped to the major cities for projects such as the Brooklyn Bridge, offices buildings, post offices and railroad stations. The Washington Monument and federal office buildings are constructed using Vinalhaven granite, as are other monuments, bridges, and dams. The columns of St. John the Divine in New York were fashioned each in one piece in the island manufactory and thousands of tons of paving blocks were cut for Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Newark and Portland.
To fully appreciate this lovely stone head of a young girl, view it in profile. Seen from the front, the face seems distorted, which Smith describes in the process of Allen’s work on this piece. However, from the side view, either side, it is clearly outstanding in the beauty of its simplicity.
“Blissfully unaware and calm is Frederick Allen’s ‘Head Study’ in granite. It might be called ‘Peace’ or ‘Nun’s Head.’ It is another pebble, and exquisite. His Madonnas and nuns are always things of beauty, serenity.” So raves Jackson R. Garrett in the Concord Journal.
The Boston Herald reviewer “His head of a nun in the same medium [stone] abstracts from realistic detail a few simple forms in which color is suggested by the differences in the surface working of the stone. It is a very distinguished little piece.”
Direct carving from Vinalhaven pink granite
Location: Private collection
Literature: North Haven, Maine Summer 2012 Bartlett’s Harbor Artists’ Colony, Abbott, C.B.
The Boston Herald, July 30, 1939
The Concord Journal, Aug.3, 1939, Jackson R. Garrett
Exhibited at Bartlett’s Harbor Artists’ Colony in North Haven, ME, Summer 2012
Exhibited at Concord Art Association, Summer Exhibition, 1939