Burton Callicott’s Mid-South Allegory

A new post for the Pink Palace about a Burton Callicott painting that I found out we own:

The Pink Palace Family of Museums

Three of the largest objects in the Memphis Pink Palace Museum’s collection are Burton Callicott’s Hernando De Soto murals in the mansion lobby. Callicott painted these murals in 1934 as part of the New Deal’s Public Works of Art Project. In 1936, he competed for one other Works Progress Administration mural to be placed in the federal courthouse in Vicksburg, Mississippi. He titled his entry Mid-South Allegory.


In this painting, Callicott shows his views on social values and racial equality. The middle black figure picks the cotton that the central white figure processes into cottonseed oil. The two men in the upper portion are both engaged in bringing the crop to market. Artist Ray Kass argues in Burton Callicott: A Retrospective that the painting gives equal emphasis to the contributions of white and black Southerners in the development of the region’s main crop. Additionally, the symbolic figures at the…

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Published by Caroline Mitchell Carrico

I am a writer, mom, and museum enthusiast in Memphis. Also a fan of reading all the words, cooking all the vegetables, and watching all my kids' soccer games.

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