Allen Lewis was born in Mobile, Alabama on April 7, 1873. In 1894, at the age of 21, he left for Paris where he studied at the Academie Colarossi and with Jean-Leon Gerome at the Ecole des Beaus Arts, creating his first etchings in 1895. In 1900 his work, along with fellow Americans Whistler and Pennell, was accepted in the printmaking section of the Paris Salon. With his reputation growing due to the Salon he began teaching etching in Paris, living the frugal Bohemian life. One of his students was the American Donald Shaw MacLaughlan.