a dealer in American folk art and antique furniture, helped assemble several major private and public collections, including those at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum; the New York State Historical Association at Cooperstown; the Shelburne Museum; Old Sturbridge Village; and the Winterthur Museum. She alsoassisted in the founding of the American Museum in Great Britain and served as a trustee of the American Folk Art Museum. Through her work as a dealer, she helpedshape the field as well as the institutions of American folk art.Born in Cleveland to a family of modest means, Allis moved to New York in 1929 to pursue a career in interior design. In the mid-1940s she established an antiquesshop in the center of Southport, Connecticut. She also restored the Ogden House, an eighteenth-century Southport house, filling it with eighteenth- and earlynineteenth-century American furniture and folk paintings. She was a mentor to many influential collectors, including Stewart Gregory (1913–1976).It was Allis’s acquisition, in 1958, of the folk art collection assembled by William J.Gunn (1879–1952) and his wife, Marion Raymond Gunn (1881–1957), of Newtonville, Massachusetts, that brought her to national prominence. Consisting of 630 paintings, the Gunn collection was especially rich in folk portraiture. StephenClark purchased about 150 paintings for the New York State Historical Association at Cooperstown, New York. Other institutions and private collectors purchasedthe remainder.
Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum; American Folk Art Museum;
New York State Historical Association; The Shelburne Museum;Stewart Gregory; Winterthur Museum
D’Ambrosio, Paul S., and Charlotte M.Emans.
Folk Art’s Many Faces: Portraits in the New York State Historical Association.
Cooperstown, N.Y., 1987.Smith, Scudder. “Mary Allis 1899–1987.”
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