Author of approximately 100 prints, both lithographs, and etching, of which circa 10 have yet to be identified, James E. Allen (1894-1964) is today remembered as a printmaker, while his lifetime fame came from his illustrations. Raised in rural Montana, in 1913 Allen made his way to Chicago to study at the School of the Art Institute. He made an impression on fellow artist and his senior by 30 years, Alexis John Fournier, for who he was a studio assistant for about a year from 1915 to 1916. After a brief stint in the Interlaken Community of artists in New Jersey, Allen joined the war effort with the American Expeditionary Forces in Germany where James became a 2nd Lieutenant and flier. Upon his return home, and after marrying a Chicago woman, he first settled in New Jersey before moving more permanently to New York City, where he found most of his illustration work. A few months spent in Paris, where he shared studio space with wood engraver Howard Cook, gave Allen the opportunity to discover printmaking and develop technical abilities that would serve him well. James E. Allen’s etchings usually present glorified depictions of construction works building modern America. His lithographs tend to focus more on rural American life. In both oeuvres, a pride in work and life well-lived permeates each composition.
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