|Dates: ||1834 - ?|
To date, very little is known about Allen, but there is a realistic hope of learning more. He was born in England and by 1851 was living at Errol Park House, in Perthshire, with his mother and stepfather. No other trace of Allenís life has been found except for a critical album of his photographic work sold in 1980 and at present unlocated. What little information we have is drawn from the auction description, which was possibly incomplete. The calotypes in the album were dated in the negative 1852 (when Allen was only eighteen) and had manuscript notations. One image was of Peebles Church, a well-known structure on the Scottish borders. A possible association with James Nasmyth, the famous engineer who took an early interest in photography, was indicated by some of the pictures in the album. Allen took portraits of Mrs. Nasmyth besides a large telescope (possibly Lord Rosseís?) and of Mr. and Mrs. Nasmyth with a microscope. There were also three photographs either of drawings or of a model of the moon; Nasmyth was famous for his detailed moon model. Curiously, Allen is not mentioned in Samuel Smilesís 1883 edition of Nasmythís Autobiography.
Roger Taylor & Larry J. Schaaf Impressed by Light: British Photographs from Paper Negatives, 1840-1860 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2007)
This biography is courtesy and copyright of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is included here with permission.
Date last updated: 4 Nov 2012.
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