It's National Curmudgeon's Day

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It's National Curmudgeon's Day

Today's holiday honors those who "apply the needle of truth of the balloons of hypocrisy." It is celebrated every year on the birthday of W.C. Fields, a comic genius from the Golden Age of Hollywood known for hating children, dogs and all things nice. He was so fond of drinking, as the story goes, he once stood on a street corner and 43 cars pulled up to wait for his nose to turn green.

To nominate just one artist in the Chrysler Collection for a curmudgeon label, we present Thomas Hart Benton. Where Fields' on-screen persona was largely an act, Benton was a prickly and opinionated painter who mellowed with age. That's what happens when you write your autobiography too early (38 years before he finished painting).

While the hard-drinking Benton eventually admitted "I was not the most desirable kind of fellow to have around," he consistently held strong beliefs on the virtue of the common man and contempt for the artistic elites. He felt pictures should be "effective in more than a decorative way," and an example of that is shown below.

Benton did this print for the Association of American Artists, an outfit that provided fine art to ordinary people during the Great Depression. The artist would get $200 for the entire series, and people could buy prints for just $5. In an irony that would raise the ire of many a curmudgeon, these affordable prints marketed to the masses are now highly prized by collectors and fetch premium prices.

Click to enlarge

SHOWN ABOVE: Thomas Hart Benton, Island Hay lithograph, ca. 1940. © Thomas Hart Benton and Rita P. Benton Testamentary Trusts / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Click image to enlarge.
(This item is currently not on gallery view.)

The content of this blog was provided by the current newsletter of the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia. You will want to include the Chrysler Museum of Art on your list of places to visit in Virginia.

Posted by

Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs

Roy Kelley and Associates


Roy Kelley, Associate Broker

Realty Group Referrals (Retired from RE/MAX Realty Group)

6 Montgomery Village Ave., Suite 200

Gaithersburg, MD 20879

Main Office:  301-258-7757 (You will not reach me at this number)

Send an email message if you need my phone numbers. I will be happy to recommend a real estate professional if you are moving to the area.


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Yolanda Cordova-Gilbert
Richmond, TX


 LOL! That is funny, Virgnia has many great museums, I would love to go to the VIrginia Fine Arts Museum, they lent their Faberge Egg collection to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts last year and it was faboulous! I hope you have a great day! Me I looking forward to my wine social.

Jan 29, 2015 06:40 AM #11
Noah Seidenberg
Coldwell Banker - Evanston, IL
Chicagoland and Suburbs (800) 858-7917

That is really funny and interesting Roy. Everyone knows a Curmudgeon or two and who better to use their birthday as the day of remembrance then W.C Fields?

Jan 29, 2015 06:49 AM #12
Captain Wayne - Rowlett Real Estate School
REcampus Fully Accredited Florida ONLINE & Classroom Training in Destin, Pensacola Florida - Panama City Beach, FL
Rowlett Real Estate School / Owner and Instructor

Wow Roy, I'm glad I chose to read this one, I really, really, like that painting! Thank you for sharing.

Jan 29, 2015 07:05 AM #13
Tom Braatz Waukesha County Real Estate 262-377-1459
Coldwell Banker - Oconomowoc, WI
Waukesha County Realtor Real Estate agent. SOLD!

Roy Kelley

Very nice painting. W C Fields: now that guy was as funny as it gets. Love watching his old movies

Jan 29, 2015 09:19 AM #14
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

What I learned

Jan 31, 2015 08:58 AM #15
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Roy, very appropriate to pick W.C. Field's birthday! Wish I had one of those prints! Enjoy your day!

Jan 31, 2015 09:00 PM #16
Nina Hollander
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

Hi Roy --- I never knew this so thanks for the post and great history. Wouldn't we all love to be curmudgeons and get away with it?

Jan 31, 2015 09:41 PM #17
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Realty Center - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

I enjoyed your post and I was glad Kathy put it on her weekly summary page this week!

Jan 31, 2015 11:02 PM #18
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

Your comments are very much appreciated.

Have a great day and a most productive week.

Jan 31, 2015 11:48 PM #19
Kat Palmiotti
Grand Lux Realty, Monroe NY, 914-419-0270, - Monroe, NY
The House Kat

National Curmudgeon's Day!  Who would have thought? 

Feb 01, 2015 01:17 AM #20
Joanna Cohlan
Fresh Eyes For Your Home - Chappaqua, NY
Designing, Decorating & Staging Westchester Homes

Hey Roy - I love Thomas Hart Benton and there is actually a special exhibit of his murals at the MET in New York as we speak.  And WC Fields, well, he was definitely a curmudgeon - but a most lovable one - just ask Mae West!

Feb 01, 2015 12:32 PM #21
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

I didn't realize it until just now but that is exactly what my dad has turned into....a curmudgeon!

Feb 01, 2015 10:46 PM #22
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

Thanks, again, for your feedback and for your continued support.

Have a wonderful week.


Feb 01, 2015 10:48 PM #23
Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi
NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656 - New Lenox, IL
708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience

Roy Kelley ... you definitely introduced me to an artist I'd never heard of .... or a piece of history I was unaware of.  Thank you.

My father-in-law was a huge fan of W.C. Fields.  The stories he shared!


Feb 02, 2015 12:21 AM #24
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

 Roy Kelley great picture and now, that adds one more to my list of places to visit.

Feb 02, 2015 10:00 AM #25
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

Praful Thakkar - You will definitely want visit the Chrysler Museum of Art when you are in the Norfolk, VA area.

Feb 02, 2015 10:32 AM #26
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

National Curmudgeon's Day!   - I had no idea.  Thanks for the historical perspective.

Feb 02, 2015 11:58 AM #27
Joy Baker
RE/MAX Insight - Salem, NH
So NH RE & Short Sale Specialist

"It ain't what they call you, it's what you answer to".  One of my favorite W.C. Fields quotes.  I also love the definition of curmudgeon!  Great post Roy!

Feb 02, 2015 01:07 PM #28
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

Thanks, again, for stopping by. It is always good to receive your feedback.

Apr 01, 2015 02:46 AM #29
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

I like to encourage ActiveRain bloggers to follow additional members each day. It is an easy way to pay it forward.

Aug 23, 2017 05:40 AM #30
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