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Having worked as a domestic science teacher, Allan began to study sculpture in the 1920s. She changed her name from Eva Dorothy Allan to Julian Phelps Allan in 1929. At that time, assuming a masculine name was a way of declaring a lesbian identity. This portrait bust was commissioned by the sitter, Marjorie Thomasson, to give to her father just before she went to live abroad. The emphasis on the sitter’s face, isolated from the shoulders, creates a sense of unusual delicacy. By contrast, her short hair, emerging as a series of ripples in the bronze, suggests a confident modernity.
Julian Phelps Allen was born in Southampton in 1892 and died in 1996.