Merritt Thomas Mauzey, lithographer and author-illustrator of children's books, was born at Clifton, Bosque County, Texas, on November 16, 1898, the son of Henry Clay and Amanda Elizabeth (Crowe) Mauzey. In 1900 his family moved by covered wagon to Oak Creek Valley to begin dry-land cotton farming on rented land. They purchased 160 acres of railroad land east of Decker in 1902. In 1912 Mauzey went to live with a married sister in Blackwell in order to attend high school. He first studied drawing through a correspondence course offered by the Fine Art Institute in Omaha, Nebraska.
On July 8, 1916, he married Margaret Echols, and their only child, Merritt, Jr., was born in 1919. Mauzey farmed cotton on shares until 1920, when he moved to Sweetwater, where he supported his family with various jobs for the next seven years. In 1927 he moved his household to Dallas. There, in 1933, he studied etching with Frank E. Klepper in a night class taught at Bryan High School. He also studied with John F. Knott, cartoonist for the Dallas Morning News. Two of Mauzey's oils, Cotton Gin and Cotton Compress, were exhibited at the Texas Centennial Exposition in Dallas (1936). He taught himself the art of printmaking, and in May 1938 he became a charter member of the Lone Star Printmakers. Here he found his ultimate medium, the lithographic stone.
The dry-land cotton culture of West Texas, the site of his formative years, is embodied in his best work, particularly his print series "The Last Frontier of the Cotton Farmer." From 1943 until 1962 Mauzey worked for the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company and produced art in his spare time. In 1946 he received the first Guggenheim Foundation fellowship in fine arts ever awarded to a Texan. His work received prizes at a national show at the Library of Congress, at the 1939 Allied Arts Exhibit, and at the 1941 Texas Fine Arts Show. He won the K. F. J. Knoblock award given by the Society of American Graphic Artists in 1948. He held numerous solo exhibitions, and his work has been in numerous overseas tours. He is represented in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Corcoran Gallery in New York, the Dallas Museum of Art, and the Library of Congress.
Mauzey also wrote and illustrated several children's books. He was featured in Carl Zigrosser's The Artist in America: Twenty-four Close-ups of Contemporary Printmakers (1942), and his papers are collected at the University of Southern Mississippi, which published the Catalogue of the Merritt Mauzey Collection in 1971. His autobiographical memoir, An Artist's Notebook: The Life and Art of Merritt Mauzey, with more than sixty illustrations, appeared posthumously in 1979. Mauzey describe himself as a "progressive Democrat" and was a life-long Methodist. He was a member of several organizations, including Audubon Artists, Incorporated, and American Graphic Artists. Predeceased by his wife of fifty-two years, Mauzey died in Dallas, Texas, on November 14, 1973.
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Jerry Bywaters Collection on the Art of the Southwest, Southern Methodist University. Merritt Mauzey, An Artist's Notebook: The Life and Art of Merritt Mauzey (Memphis: Memphis State University Press, 1979). Ruth Morgan, "Sermons on Stone," Southwest Review 32 (Spring 1947). Rick Stewart, Lone Star Regionalism (Austin: Texas Monthly Press, 1985).
Dallas/Fort Worth Region
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Mauzey, Merritt Thomas,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed August 15, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
March 1, 1995
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: