Allen came from a prominent Louisville, Kentucky, family. He and his wife, fellow artist Jane Mengel Allen (1888-1952), were both connected with the Belknap Hardware and Mengel companies. The library of their estate outside Louisville in Glenview was considered the most beautiful room in the city at that time. The couple were philanthropists and major supporters of the arts.
Arthur Allen took up art at the age of 45, in 1924. A visit to the Provincetown, Massachusetts, art colony inspired him, and instruction from American Regionalist James R. Hopkins, an Ohio native, grounded him. He reportedly left the business world entirely to devote himself to art. Success followed with shows at the Frank K.M. Rehm Gallery in New York City, which also exhibited the early work of American Modernist Edward Hopper. Allen’s work, as seen in our two 1929 lithographs, combines Art Deco, Regionalist and Modern traits.
Critics considered Allen a landscapist, one of a group working in Louisville in the first half of the 20th century, including Morris Belknap, Dorothy and Norman Kohlhepp and Lucy Diecks. His wife, Jane, was characterized as a leading still-life artist, along with Maud Ainslie. Jane Allen showed her prize-winning art, mainly watercolors, nationally and was a member of the National Association of Women Artists.