John Singer Sargent's Sir Hugh Allen
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Sir Hugh Percy Allen

Sir Hugh Percy Allen

Sir Hugh Allen
John Singer Sargent -- American painter  
Oxford Bach Choir,
New College, Oxford
Charcoal on paper "Mug"
 Jpg: Ebay

Sir Hugh Allen  (1869, Reading, Berkshire, Eng. - 1946, Oxford, Oxfordshire) He was an organist and musical educator who exerted a far-reaching influence on the English musical life of his time.

Allen was an organ scholar at Christ's College, Cambridge, and later held organist's posts at Ely cathedral (1898–1901) and New College, Oxford (1901–18). In 1918 he became director of the Royal College of Music, London.

From: Scott Thomas Buckle
sco tt bu
Date: Tue, 08 Mar 2005

Yesterday evening I stumbled across a copy of Cyril Bailey's 1948 biography of Hugh Percy Allen. The Sargent drawing is reproduced as a frontispiece 'by permission of the Oxford Bach Choir' which supports the 1956 Boston catalogue which states that the portrait was at New College, Oxford. The biography contains several photographs and caricatures of 'H.P.A' (as he is referred to in the text). I have enclosed scans of two photographic portraits of the subject, for comparison with the Sargent drawing.

Here's an extract from the book which may be of interest:

Underneath the ferocity lay a large humanity, which showed itself in benevolence and geniality. The two aspects succeeded one another with incredible rapidity; indeed they were sometimes almost simultaneous. Sargent brought this out in his drawing of which Dr. Hely-Hutchinson in his broadcast gave a brief but vigorous description: 'To start with there is an overwhelming impression of bigness; then the chin shows his strength. But now look at his eyes, one of them glaring, the other one twinkling. Inevitably on a first introduction it was the glare that impressed one, the twinkle might perhaps come out in a pat on the back or a few words of encouragement. H.P.A used himself to describe his first meeting with Sargent, who exclaimed: 'You look a ferocious sort of man, but I think I trace a touch of kindness somewhere.' 'And I replied: "Mr. Sargent, you are much mistaken. I am made of the milk of human kindness, but when roused-".'

Special thanks to Scott Thomas Buckle, from London, a friend of the JSS Gallery, for sending me photos and information on this drawing.

Scott Thomas Buckle
sc ot   tbu
Date: Sat, 26 Feb 2005

Hi Natasha,

I was surfing eBay this week, and came across the following item:

(Editor's note - the images are those above and the text read as follows: "The artist has wonderful use of pencil to capture the stern moustached gentleman's balding head; this possibly being a military gentleman. There are areas of light and shade and these are produced well. The sketch has some minor signs of foxing and the card is a little dirty. The picture comes unframed. The card measures 12.5 inches by 17.5 inches. The piece is signed to the lower left hand side with what appears to be John Lalavyuot and dated 1925 to the lower right hand corner.")

I already knew of your excellent site, so I looked through it, but couldn't find an image of the sitter - so was hopeful that this might be a lost drawing by JSS. Then I checked through my old copy of 'Sargent's Boston' to find out if any other portraits were drawn by him in 1925. Amongst those that fell into that category was that of Sir Hugh Percy Allen and I found this image of him on the net:

Having confirmed the identity of the sitter, I inadvertently had put into question the authenticity of the drawing in my mind. So I checked out the Sargent files at the Witt Library. Although they had no image of Sir Hugh Allen, they did have several other repros of drawings printed on similarly large cream paper. None of these had any additional inscriptions save for the artist's signature, so to the untrained eye they might appear at first glance to be actual drawings.

Since you are the authority on Sargent and quite an enthusiast, I thought that you might find this little anecdote of interest, and you can doubtlessly borrow the eBay image for your site.

In your researches, have you come across the book or folio that these large images originate from? A copy of that certainly would be worth acquiring.  
Yours investigatively,

Scott Thomas Buckle

From: Natasha

I’m not really sure if I remember seeing anything about a printing of some of his “Mugs” – in a portfolio type thing. Now his Memorial Exhibition had large – well . . . .  book size images of his paintings – all black and white, of course. It may be something like that around the time of his death – published in London -- but I’m guessing.

It's fortuitous that you wrote because I am on the cusp of launching an extensive spread on John Lalavyuot -- the man and his art.

I am most appreciatively your report reader,



By:  Natasha Wallace
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Created 2/25/2005