As an educator at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts for thirty years, Frederick Warren Allen was connected to the Boston Museum itself for his entire career. His first commission was one of the granite relief panels on the Evans Wing of the museum building. He also exhibited in their galleries. The Museum owns a few of his pieces and shows them in rotating exhibits.
Featured below are just a few of Allen’s works related to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts.
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Bernard M. Keyes, 1928-30
Art Student, 1927
Bernard M. Keyes, 1928-30A 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 to America in 1922 he began to teach painting classes at the SMFA. Allen and Keyes became colleagues. Art in Transition by Pierce lists him as head of the department that taught Perspective from 1927 on, a required course.
This bronze bust was cast about 1930 and was later given as a gift by the Sharf family to the Museum of Fine Arts. It was on display on the floor above the rotunda of the MFA in 2008 where it flanked the doorway paired with a bust of Charles Grafly, the predecessor of Frederick Allen as Head of the Sculpture Department.
Art Student, 1927“Ain’t She Sweet,” a song that was published the year this portrait was modeled, was a hit song that typified the Roaring Twenties and became a standard in the repertoire of popular music. “Oh me oh my, ain’t that perfection!” This portrait is sweet perfection.
Short-cropped hair replaced the long tresses of the Victorian Era in the ‘20s. Perfect for the popular close-fitting cloche cap, daring girls at first had to go to barbers to get a crop cut and then had to withstand considerable social pressure for being unladylike. Considered very modern and “smart,” rebelling women, like art students, wanted to look more like men.