The Museum Collection

John Allan Portrait

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Creator: Attributed to Thomas Sully
Date: ca. 1804
Format: Oil on Metal
Source: Maryland Historical Society
Collection: Poe Foundation, Inc.
Place of Publication:
Publish Date:


This small oil portrait on tin of Edgar Poe's foster father John Allan has been attributed to a few different artists, including the portraitist Thomas Sully, whose style of painting it resembles. Based on Sully's ledger, which includes listings for portraits of some of Allan's friends (but no mention of Allan) the portrait was probably painted in 1804, while the artist was living in Richmond.

From John Allan's granddaughter, Louise Allan Pryor, the portrait was purchased by the Poe collector Orrin C. Painter, whose sister, Mrs. J. Hyland Kuhns, gave it to the Maryland Historical Society. Since John Allan never lived in Maryland, the Maryland Historical Society sold the portrait to the Poe Museum in Richmond, where Allan had spent most of his life.

A companion portrait of Allan's wife Frances Valentine Allan is now lost, but the Poe Museum owns a copy of it painted by Thomas Sully's nephew, Robert Sully, who was also a friend of Poe's. Both of these portraits hang together in an exhibit of Allan family furniture at the Poe Museum.