The Museum Collection

Mary Allan Portrait

ID #: 1079
Creator: James Tannock
Date: ca. 1803
Format: Oil on Canvas
Source: Museum Purchase
Collection: Poe Foundation, Inc.
Place of Publication:
Publish Date:


Mary Allan (died 1850) was the oldest of Edgar Allan Poe's foster father John Allan's sisters. Mary Allan resided at the Allan home in Bridgegate House in Irvine, Scotland. Edgar Allan Poe visited her in Scotland in 1815, when he was six years old.

Born in Kilmarnock, the artist James Tannock (1784-1863) exhibited over forty of his portraits at the Royal Academy between 1813 and 1841. His portraits of George Chalmers, Professor G. Bell, and Henry Bell are in the collection of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. He is reputed to be the only artist for whom poet Robert Burns sat for a portrait.

The Poe Museum purchased the painting from the subject's great niece, Miss Sophie Douglas of Tigh Chattan, Aberfeldy, Scotland, in 1928. Miss Douglas's cousin, Mrs. J.M. Leake of Richmond, Virginia, had informed the Poe Foundation that the portrait was available. Among the letters Douglas wrote to the Poe Museum concerning the portrait are details about the portrait and the artist. According to Miss Douglas, "The gold ring on one of her fingers I have in my possession. It is called a 'magic ring.' I also had the brooch until a few years ago, when it was lost unfortunately." It was Douglas who dated the portrait "about 1803."

The painting was cleaned in 1981.