Arthur Allen came from a prominent Louisville, Kentucky, family. He and his wife, fellow artist Jane Mengel Allen, were 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 combines Art Deco, Regionalist and Modernist traits.