Acknowledgements by Mary Ryan
From the Exhibit Catalog “James E. Allen”, Mary Ryan Gallery, 1984
Many thanks must go to the family of James E. Allen for their assistance in the publishing of this catalogue, most especially to Mr. Allen's late wife, Grace Parmelee. The late Mrs. Allen organized and protected these prints for some 40 years - maintaining a clippings file, recording sales and exhibitions, and making sure that the artwork was in good order. I must also thank Janet Flint at the National Museum of American Art for her assistance in locating the estate through James Allen's sister-in-law, Patricia Parmelee. Patricia Parmelee in turn led me to James Allen's oldest daughter, Charmay Allen Hays. Ms. Hays has taken care of the work since her mother's death and has been most helpful and supportive of this project. Special thanks are also in order for Sara Hutchinson at the National Museum of American Art for her assistance in providing archival material from the NMAA, and to Sinclair Hitchings at the Boston Public Library for his research contributions. I would also like to thank David W. Kiehl, Assistant Curator of Prints at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, for his enthusiasm and interest in James E. Allen which spurred me on to learn more about his prints, and for his appreciation for this catalogue, and to Elisa Rothstein for her concise biographical essay.
In researching James E. Allen's prints, I have relied on the clippings file kept by Mrs. Allen along with publications of his time and family remembrances. James and Grace Allen kept records of prints sold and occasionally of editions printed, but scant mention is made of dates in these ledgers. All of his prints were done between 1925 and 1943, but it is difficult to determine exact dates unless they were noted on the print itself. James E. Allen actively participated in National print exhibitions and, from recording the first appearance of a print in a Society of American Etchers show or another exhibition, one must assume that the print was done in the year of that particular exhibition or prior to that year. In the listing of prints to follow, exact dates are listed when known. If a print first appeared in an exhibition in 1935, for example, and the date of the print is not known, it is recorded as "c. 1935". If an edition is recorded, that too, is listed.
Allen did not print his own work, but there are no extant records, to my knowledge, which document who did. Allen has records of some lithographs and etchings which were printed by Ernest Roth, and also some lithographs printed by George Miller. Edition sizes, when known, are recorded. The lithographs seem to have been printed in editions of between 20 and 60. Etchings edition sizes were rarely recorded by Allen, but when noted they generally range between 10 and 50, although there are some editions of 100. His prints were handled by the Milch Gallery, Grand Central Art Gallery and by Kennedy and Company. Kennedy and Company was his primary gallery and Albert Reese, director of the print department at Kennedy's during James Allen's time, recalls that there were no etching editions that exceeded 100. Unfortunately, neither Kennedy Galleries nor the Grand Central Art Gallery have records of James E. Allen's prints in their files.
Many of James E. Allen's prints, in particular the lithographs, were commissioned works for advertising and illustration. He sometimes printed an edition from these commissions, and sometimes only printed one proof for the specific commission in question. Reproductions of Allen's lithographs that we would otherwise have no record of appear in magazines of the time, and it is quite possible that several prints have been inadvertently omitted from this catalogue because we were not aware of their existence. It is our hope that this catalogue and exhibition will suffice as an introduction to the work of James E. Allen. Every print that we know of has been reproduced for identification purposes and as much information as possible about each print is provided. I hope that this will be only a first step in a series of discoveries about James E. Allen and his remarkable body of work.
Mary Ryan - reprinted with permission