Thomas Allen (1849-1924)

Thomas Allen (1849-1924)

The son of a wealthy railroad magnate, Allen made a sketching tour of the Rocky Mountains while in college. The trip strengthened his resolve to become an artist. He entered the Royal Academy in Düsseldorf in 1872 and studied there for four years. In 1878 he moved to Ecouen, a suburb of Paris, and lived in a colony of artists that included Pierre Édouard Frere and August-Frederich-Albrecht Schenck.

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Allen returned to the United States in 1880. He married Eleanor G. Whitney of Cambridge and they settled in Boston where Allen opened a studio on Boylston Street. Shortly after the birth of their daughter, Eleanor died. Around that same time, in 1882, his father also died, and Allen inherited not only a fortune but also a number of business concerns. In 1884 he married Alice Ranney of Boston and they moved into a house and studio at 10 Commonwealth Avenue. Together they had two sons.

Allen plunged into Boston’s artistic circles. He joined the Paint and Clay Club, the Boston Society of Water Color Painters, the Copley Society, the St. Botolph Club and the Boston Art Club. He served as president and trustee of the Museum of Fine Arts; chairman of the Art Commission of Boston; president of the International Jury of Award at the St. Louis Expo, 1904; member of the Society of American Artists, and an associate member of the National Academy of Design.

Retaining the tight realism that he learned in Düsseldorf, Allen favored landscape and animal subjects. He exhibited at the National Academy of Design and at the Paris Salons of 1884, 1887 and 1889. He showed watercolors and oils continually at the Boston Art Club, from 1883 until 1900. The Museum of Fine Arts held a memorial retrospective exhibition after Allen’s death in 1924.

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