Allen’s Students and Sculptural Legacy

When Bela L. Pratt died unexpectedly in 1917 at the young age of fifty, Allen lost not only a great teacher, but also his mentor and friend. Allen was still considered too young and inexperienced to take over the department, so after having taught Pratt’s classes for about five months, Charles Grafly was hired to fill the position, commuting up from Philadelphia twice a week to do “crits” and instructing Allen on what was to be taught. Allen carried out his plans to the letter and taught the classes well. In February of 1918 he was made a full member of the faculty. When a new building was being planned for the school, Allen wrote a letter to the administration requesting that a third room and additional courses be added to attract promising sculptors. When the building was erected, his wishes were granted. He then spent time going to Philadelphia and New York to increase his knowledge of other schools, to expand his exposure to the arts and to look for new trends in sculpture . He felt the trips were of infinite benefit to him and broadening in their influence. In 1929 Charles Grafly died and Frederick Allen took over as head of the department.

As the new Head, he changed the name of the department from Modeling to Sculpture, added courses in casting, armature building, composition, patinaeing, and the relationship of sculpture to architecture. He held weekly contests and used the best results for the year-end exhibition. He used a new method of teaching, emphasizing structure rather than surfaces. Eventually he developed a full four year program with a certificate awarded for successful completion. The innovations may have been the reason that, when the school was reorganized in 1931, he was the only instructor retained.

In addition to teaching classes at the Museum School, he maintained a working studio and supplemented his income with private teaching. His classes and tutoring were popular and pupils were sent to him from many places. Upstairs he kept small individual studios which he rented to students and downstairs he pursued his professional work. His assistants continued to learn from him as he had learned from Bela Pratt and as Pratt had learned from Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The legacy continues and his students have passed down his teaching to the present day.

Here are some of Allen’s most notable students along with links to learn more about them:

Elizabeth MacLean Smith

Merrilyn Delano Marsh (sculptor)

Adio DiBiccari

Peter Paul Abate

Reno Pisano

Kahlil Gibran

Katharine Lane Weems

Amelia Peabody

David Aronson

John Wilson (not J.A.Wilson)

Nanna Annie Matthews Bryant

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *