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Portrait of Hervey Allen

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Alasdair Nichol
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Published: 26 April 2017

Hervey Allen by Daniel Garber: A Portrait of the Author

Author Hervey Allen was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1889. He attended the United States Naval Academy as a Midshipman from 1909-1910, and later served as a Lieutenant with the Army during World War I. His true passion, however, was the written word, though it wasn’t until a few years after his military service that he committed his passion to the page. Allen would go on to write ten books over the course of his life, and briefly taught English at Vassar University. 

A Life of Letters
His first novel, “Wampum and Old Gold,” written in 1921, was awarded the Yale Younger Poets prize. A prestigious honor, it is also the country’s oldest annual literary award, bestowed by the Yale University Press. In 1926, Allen wrote “Toward the Flame,” a nonfiction account of the war, based on his experiences serving in the north of France. Later that year, he published a biography of the poet Edgar Allen Poe, borrowing the title “Israfel” from one of Poe’s poems of the same name, from 1831. 

It was Allen’s fourth novel, “Anthony Adverse,” for which he is best known. A novel in three volumes, “Anthony Adverse” was published in 1933 to sweeping critical acclaim. Life Magazine listed it among their ranking of 100 outstanding books in 1944. The novel follows the titular character Anthony, from his birth in the Italian Alps in the 1770s to his eventual death in Mexico. 

A 1936 film adaptation, based on the first volume in the “Anthony Adverse” series, was directed by Mervyn LeRoy and starred Olivia de Havilland and Frederic March. The film won four Academy Awards, and was nominated for a total of seven. 

Portrait of Hervey Allen

The book’s largest fan, however, may have been prolific actor Tony Curtis. Born Bernard Schwartz, Curtis changed his name to Anthony, after the book’s protagonist, and was buried with a copy of the novel in 2010.

Preserved in a Portrait
Freeman’s is pleased to offer “Portrait of Hervey Allen” by leading Pennsylvania Impressionist Daniel Garber, which the artist executed in 1935 at the height of the author’s popularity. Roughly four feet square, the exquisite painting depicts Allen sitting at his desk, a cigarette poised between his fingers, while outside shadows fall across the lush lawn, and white peaks of sailboats dot the horizon. The colors and brushwork are unmistakably Garber, and the thoughtful repose of the subject, almost as if lost in thought, provides a glimpse into the life of the celebrated American novelist. 

Garber remains a leading artist at auction amongst the Pennsylvania Impressionists, a group that also includes George Sotter, Fern Coppedge, and Edward Redfield. Freeman's has sold more works by the Pennsylvania Impressionists than any other auction house, and is also the only auction house to have sales dedicated to this exciting collecting area.

Join Freeman’s on June 4th, 2017, for our American Art & Pennsylvania Impressionists sale.

Lean More Now

To be offered June 4th, 2017: Daniel Garber (American 1880 – 1958) “Portrait of Hervey Allen,” oil on canvas. Estimate: $100,000-120,000.

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