The elegant Lyman Estate in Waltham was owned by generations of Lymans after it was built in 1790. The last family member to own it gave it to SPNEA/Historic New England to maintain as an historic property of 37 acres open to the public. The Ballroom and the Bow Parlor have been preserved in their original form, but the remainder of the house has been renovated and tastefully restyled by the Lymans throughout the years as a family gathering place. The Mansion was used mostly in warm weather while a residence was maintained on Beacon Hill one block from the State House with a view of Boston Common. This was a family of wealth and grace who were interested in horticulture and agriculture. The Massachusetts Horticultural Society lists them as early members.
To establish the connections here, it is important first to note that Annie Fay Bolton Matthews and her daughter Nanna Matthews Bryant were Mass. Hort. Members with the Lymans. Nanna propagated the Shrubby Calceolaria “Angleside” for which she won a Silver Medal in 1925.1 There were other connections between the families. Annie Fay owned “Angleside” a mansion in Waltham a short distance from “The Vale,” the name of the Lyman Estate, as well as properties in Boston’s Back Bay near the Lyman residence. The Angleside Association of artists still exists there on Angleside Drive where the painter Suzanne Hodes works and writes about the artists of the area. Another person by the name of Hodes processed the papers of Ella Lyman Cabot, the daughter of Arthur T. Lyman, Sr. The wife of Arthur T. Lyman, Jr. was Susan Cabot who inherited the estate and donated it to SPNEA/Historic New England. The Cabots, incidentally summered in North East Harbor and North Haven Maine where Allen owned property. Nanna died the same year as Arthur T. Jr. and Ella died the following year. The two families were in the same exclusive social network.
The association with Mr. Allen was that Nanna Matthews Bryant, who sculpted lovely figures from white marble, was Allen’s private student for several years between 1915-1919, and Allen was the sculptor who created either a bust or a bas relief of Nanna’s mother Annie Fay Bolton Matthews in 1917.
The Lymans would have learned of Allen not only through the Matthews family, which seems highly likely given their proximity both in Boston and Waltham and the mutual interest in Horticulture, but also through the sculptor’s reputation within high society circles who sought out well-known artists of the time to create family portraits and decorations for their homes. Taking a death mask was delicate and risky work, entrusted only to the select few who were skilled in the technique or willing to do it at all. Allen taught the art in his classes where life masks were part of the curriculum.
Medium or Technique: Death mask, Warren E. assisting (18 April 1933)
1 Email from Sally Zimmerman at Historic New England to C.B. Abbott (11/19/17)