In the context of painting and sculpture, an image or images intended by the artist to have underlying meaning or a story line behind the obvious visual arrangement.
Allegorical works are exclusive in that they require education or â€œinformation outside the workâ€ (Atkins) in accord with what the artist is trying to convey.
Traditionally Allegorical painting and sculpture creates a tie between the arts and literature”, such as the Bible, respected poets and novelists of English literature, and Greek and Roman mythology.
Allegory in American art had much European influence, especially from England, and was used extensively by late 18th and 19th-century American painters and sculptors, many of them having spent much time in England such as Benjamin West and Washington Allston.
Hudson River School painters including Thomas Cole, Jasper Cropsey and Frederic Church did landscape paintings based on allegorical references to the Bible and the transcendental writings of New England philosophers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson.
The panoramic western mountain scenes of Albert Bierstadt are filled with allegorical expressions of god in nature. Ancient fables and mythological figures appeared frequently in the allegorical sculptures of American sculptors working in Florence, Italy in the mid to late 19th Century—- Thomas Ball, Thomas Crawford, William Couper, Daniel Chester French and Hiram Powers.
Allegorical artwork in its traditional context went out of style in America in the 1940s and 50s, but Post-Modernism has returned to it with historical and figurative images.