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    Description

    MERRITT MAUZEY (1897-1973)
    Uncle Fud and Aunt Boo, 1930s
    Oil on masonite
    30 x 24 inches (76.2 x 61.0 cm)
    Signed lower right

    Grandpa Snazzy, Uncle Fud, and Aunt Boo were well-known comedic radio characters created in the early 1930s by radio personality Bob Burns. They were happy-go-lucky, barefoot, tobacco chewing, dirt-poor sharecroppers. Merritt Mauzey places these normally happy and carefree characters in the firm and horrible grip of the Dust Bowl. Instead of the light-hearted comic characters Americans were used to, Mauzey presents them toiling against the awful forces of the drought.

    In this harvest-time painting, Uncle Fud has passed out from exhaustion against a tree stump. His wife, Aunt Boo, is picking what is left of the meager cotton crop. The few cotton plants that have survived are wilted with the cotton bolls hanging down instead of up. As in the previous painting, the sky is no longer blue, but gray, brown, and orange with blowing topsoil. Mauzey replaces the romantic images of Thomas Hart Benton's regionalism with his own regionalism of stark truth, and the plight of the sharecropping farmer.

    Merritt Mauzey's, Uncle Fud and Aunt Boo like Grandpa Snazzy, is one of the artist's greatest paintings and an iconic Dust Bowl image. It is an accurate, however dispiriting and bleak, assessment of the farmer's plight. Mauzey kept both Grandpa Snazzy and Uncle Fred and Aunt Boo in his personal collection until his very last days, always declining to sell them. He finally sold both to pay for medical care. He sold his prized paintings to the present owner, a long-time cotton broker, knowing at that point in time (mid-1970s when Regionalist paintings were out of favor in the art world) only someone in the cotton industry would appreciate them.

    Uncle Fud and Aunt Boo and Grandpa Snazzy were Mauzey's prize possessions until very near his death. This is a unique opportunity to purchase not one, but two paintings the artist himself valued above all others.

    Dust Bowl Chronology:
    1930 - Bumper crops, the deepening depression, and a trade war cause a collapse in agricultural prices.

    1931 - Severe drought strikes the Midwest and South. The first dust storms from over-plowed and over-grazed land start.

    1932 - More severe drought - fourteen major dust storms this year; next year will be thirty-eight.

    1933 - Drought continues and the banks fail. President Roosevelt declares four-day bank holiday. Many farms are foreclosed upon and many sharecroppers were forced off their land.

    1934 - Drought and economic calamity continues. Great dust storms spread. The drought covers 75% of the country and severely affects twenty-seven states.

    1935 - Black Sunday. The worst "black blizzard" of the Dust Bowl occurs. It is estimated that 135-million acres of land have lost all or most of the topsoil; 125-million acres of land rapidly losing topsoil.

    1936 - Drought and dust storms continue. Record temperatures baked the land.

    1937 - Roosevelt addresses the nation stating, "I see one-third of the nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished."

    1938 - Extensive work in re-plowing the land into furrows, planting trees in the shelterbelts, and other conservation measures have reduced the amount of soil blowing by 65%, but the drought continues.

    Provenance:
    Acquired from the artist by the present owner


    Condition Report*: Excellent condition. Period frame in excellent condition.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Dates
    December, 2007
    1st Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
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