Allan Rohan Crite

Allan Rohan Crite PictureGrossman Library is fortunate to have on permanent display several works of the prominent American artist, Allan Rohan Crite, including a collection of sketches, The Revelation of Saint John the Divine, and illustrations. Mr. Crite, ABE '68, worked for many years in the Grossman Library. 

Allan Rohan Crite was born in 1910 in New Jersey, but moved to Boston as a young child with his mother and father. His father was an engineer and his mother was a poet. Crite demonstrated an interest in art from an early age, and took classes at the Museum of Fine Arts’ Children’s Art School as a child. His mother encouraged his interest in the arts, and took him to the MFA frequently from the time he was a baby. After graduating from the Boston English School in 1929, he was accepted to Yale and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and attended the Museum School on scholarship. Crite worked for the Navy for many years as an engineering draftsman. Crite’s mother started taking classes at the Harvard Extension School shortly after it was founded, and took classes here for nearly 50 years. She encouraged her son to take classes here as well, where he later earned his Bachelor of Arts in 1968.

The Revelation of Saint John the Divine picture

Crite Self-Portrait

Crite’s artwork generally follows three different themes: religious and liturgical, Negro spirituals, and every-day life of African Americans. He painted religious murals and other works for churches, and produced weekly bulletins for his Episcopalian church. His paintings of African Americans in urbanBoston neighborhood stood out in an age when most art depicted African Americans as either sharecroppers in the south or Harlem jazz musicians. He stated that “the idea was… to show the life of black people in an ordinary setting -- to show them 'just as people' and not a social problem.” 

He has been called “the grandaddy of the Boston arts scene.” His art can be found in major museums including the Museum of Fine Arts, Art Institute of Chicago, the Smithsonian, the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists, and the Museum of Modern Art. Crite died of natural causes in his sleep on September 6, 2007 at the age of 97. 

Further Reading