Definitions & Discussions

Welcome to the online home of the collected works of Frederick Warren Allen, an American sculptor of the Boston School.

Here in the “Definitions & Discussions” area of the site, you’ll find additional pertinent information and essays that we hope will enhance your appreciation and understanding of F.W. Allen’s world and works.

Ideal Sculpture

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. Continue Reading “Ideal Sculpture”


Polychromy is the art of employing many or various colors in decoration, especially in reference to architecture, pottery or sculpture. Polychrome decoration has existed since the Bronze age. Ancient Greek sculpture was painted in bright colors, bold patterns and lifelike colors. Sometimes other materials were added such as metals, Continue Reading “Polychromy”

On War Memorials: Allen’s theory and opinions

Taken from the biography by Agnes H. Allen:

“With the possibility of doing the sculpture on a War Memorial by Maginnis in the Fenway, which later went to another architect with change in politics, Fred spent a good deal of time thinking about it, studying historic uniforms etc. He talked to me about his need to get it all worked out in his mind or on paper before starting the actual work. He explained his thought of the need of two allegorical groups, one Memory, one Peace. Continue Reading “On War Memorials: Allen’s theory and opinions”

Medallic and Numismatic Art

Medallic and numismatic art is one that combines artistry and technical skill. Not only was Allen trained in the technicalities of this art as a teenager in the jewelry factories of Attleboro, but he was also trained in the artistry of the work by Bela Lyon Pratt, one of the two most famous numismatists of the day, the second was Pratt’s teacher Augustus St. Gaudens. On his own, Allen had an extraordinary ability to create depth and detail in extremely low relief. This medal is an example. As is the custom, two designs are created to complement each other on opposite sides of the medal or coin. Continue Reading “Medallic and Numismatic Art”

Direct Carving

Direct Carving is the practice of creating an original stone or wood sculpture, carving from a rough block of stone or piece of wood without making a model to copy. The sculptor lets the material suggest his subject matter and treatment, often leading to creative and artful solutions to the challenges the material presents. In his more advanced classes at the Museum School, Allen taught the principles and techniques of this method to his students who used stones and driftwood harvested from the New England beaches to sculpt extemporaneously. Continue Reading “Direct Carving”

Related Architects and Architecture

Architecture is a three-dimensional art (like sculpture) that is applied to the design of edifices and residences. The related word “edify” has the connotation of being uplifting. Sculpture connected to architecture not only decorates the buildings that architects create, but on a higher level gives expression to the style or purpose of that edifice or residence through the opportunity for imbuing it with symbolism or adding another artistic element to a structure. Allen “always regretted that the two [professions] were not more closely allied.” (Smith) Attention to architectural details as well as to the arrangement of spaces and decoration, gives an aesthetic appeal even to a “humble abode” that implies comfort and permanence. Continue Reading “Related Architects and Architecture”

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. Continue Reading “Allen’s Students and Sculptural Legacy”