João Francisco Allen (1781-1848) was a merchant of English (more specifically Irish) origin, born in Viana do Castelo on 1 May 1781. The son of Duarte Guilherme Allen, the British consul in Viana do Castelo, he was decorated with the Order of the Tower and Sword for his bravery in the Peninsular War, for which he volunteered.
He was one of the promoters of the creation of the Crystal Palace, as well as Porto’s first bank, Banco Comercial.
He founded the Novo Museu Portuense or Allen Museum, the first private museum to have printed catalogues in Portugal (the first was published in 1853), and was a renowned art critic.
The extraordinary collection assembled by João Allen was bought after his death by the City Council, becoming part of the collection of the original Municipal Museum and today being deposited in the Soares dos Reis National Museum.