Constance, 1897.

In 1897, Frances and Mary Allen exhibited a bromide print of “Constance” in the Royal Photographic Society’s Forty-Second Annual Exhibition in London, held September 27 to November 13. The masterful use of light on the figure and window in “Constance,” and the extraordinary range of tones, were a dramatic departure from the Allens’ previous work. Their participation in this exhibition was noteworthy. Only fourteen Americans, including the Allen sisters, Frances Benjamin Johnston, and Alfred Stieglitz, were among the more than 180 photographers included in the exhibition.21

The following year Frances and Mary exhibited “A Steep Path” and “In the Twilight” at the American Institute of the City of New York, Photographic Section in the 67th Annual Fair at the National Academy of Design. The popular exhibition displayed the work of 135 photographers including F. Holland Day, Alfred Stieglitz, and Frances Benjamin Johnston. Although “A Steep Path” had been exhibited at the Washington Salon and had also been published, it continued to elicit admiration from the reviewers: “It is a graceful posing of figures; a mother holding a babe in arms and leading a child by her side.”22

Photographs courtesy of Memorial Hall Museum, Deerfield, MA.