Artists & Designers

Allie Tennant (1892-1971)

Born in St. Louis, Allie Victoria Tennant moved to Texas as a small child and attended school in Dallas. Her father, Thomas R. Tennant, was a painter by avocation and a charter member of the New Orleans Art Association. She attended the Art Students League (ASL) in New York City in 1927-1928 and took classes in anatomy with George Bridgman and in sculpture with Edward MacCartan. She enrolled again in 1933 to study with the Viennese artist Eugene Steinhof. The Dallas Morning News interviewed Tennant in 1928 and she complimented the training she received at the ASL. She explained the school's cooperative atmosphere, saying that is was "run by students for students" and thus, "New ideas, which find difficulty of expression in other types of organizations, are here given the opportunity to develop."

Tennant maintained a studio in Dallas throughout her training in NYC and was a peripheral participant in the activities of Texas artists. In 1934 Tennant had achieved considerable recognition as a portrait sculptor and was elected to membership in the National Society of Sculptors. Her Negro Head (1935.57) was awarded the Kiest Purchase Prize at the Allied Arts Exhibition in 1935, and in 1936, she was commissioned to execute the nine-foot gilded figure of the "Tejas Warrior" placed over the entrance doorway of the Texas Centennial Hall of State building. The Centennial committee also hired her to produce reliefs for the Dallas Aquarium at Fair Park.

Her art appears in several additional Texas towns. In 1938, she completed two bronze memorials to state heroes: the James Butler Bonham Memorial in Bonham and the Jose Antonio Navarro Memorial in Corsicana. The Works Projects Administration funded her relief, Cattle, Oil, and Wheat, for the Post Office in Electra in 1940. She also produced numerous portrait busts, garden sculptures, and memorial plaques for public buildings, schools, and colleges. She was instrumental in the formation in 1943 of the Texas Sculptors Group and served as its president. She taught at the Dallas Art Institute and was active in many civic art circles and local organizations.

Adapted from

Rick Stewart, Lone Star Regionalism: The Dallas Nine and Their Circle (Austin: Texas Monthly Press), 190.

Additional source

Patricia D. Hendricks and Becky Duval Reese, A Century of Sculpture in Texas, 1889-1989 (Archer M. Huntington Art Gallery, College of Fine Arts, The University of Texas at Austin, 1989).

Fun Facts

Tennant's public endorsement of the Art Students League no doubt encouraged fellow Texas artists to study there. Dorothy Austin (whose sculptures are also represented in the DMA collection) made her way from Dallas to New York City to enroll at the ASL a year after Tennant.

Web Resources

Dallas Historical Society
Take a virtual tour of the Texas Hall of State and be sure to check out Tennant's Tejas Warrior in the Portico Tejas.