Grandma Moses

Grandma Moses

Moses, Grandma (Anna Mary Robertson Moses), 1860-1961, American painter, b. Washington co., N.Y., self-taught. She lived the arduous life of a farm wife, first in the Shenandoah Valley and later at Eagle Bridge, near Hoosick Falls, N.Y. In her late 70s, too frail to do hard work, she began to paint. Her pictures—called American primitives—are simple, gay scenes of farm life that struck the popular fancy and became widely known through prints and Christmas cards. She painted such subjects as The Old Oaken Bucket, Sugaring-Off, and Out for the Christmas Trees. Thanksgiving Turkey is in the Metropolitan Museum. At the age of 100 she illustrated " 'Twas the Night before Christmas" by Clement Moore (1962).

See her autobiography (1952) and study by O. Kallir (1973).

Grandma Moses: see Moses, Grandma.

Anna Mary Robertson Moses (September 7 1860December 13 1961), better known as "Grandma Moses" was a renowned American folk artist. She is most often cited as an example of an individual successfully beginning a career in the arts at an advanced age.


Moses began painting in her seventies after abandoning a career in embroidery because of arthritis. Louis J. Caldor, a collector, discovered her paintings in a Hoosick Falls, New York drugstore window in 1938. In 1939, an art dealer, Otto Kallir, exhibited some of her work in his Galerie Saint-Etienne in New York. This brought her to the attention of art collectors all over the world, and her paintings were highly sought after. She went on to exhibit her work throughout Europe and in Japan, where her work was particularly well received. She continued her prolific output of paintings, the demand for which never diminished during her lifetime. Grandma Moses painted mostly scenes of rural life. Some of her many paintings were used on the covers of Hallmark cards.

In 1946 her painting The Old Checkered Inn in Summer was featured in the background of a national advertising campaign for the young women's lip gloss Primitive Red by Du Barry cosmetics.

President Harry S. Truman presented her with the Women's National Press Club trophy Award for outstanding accomplishment in art in 1949, and in 1951 she appeared on See It Now, a television program hosted by Edward R. Murrow. In 1952 she published her autobiography entitled Grandma Moses: My Life's History.

On her 100th birthday in 1960, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller proclaimed the day "Grandma Moses Day" in her honor.

In November 2006, her work Sugaring Off(1943), became her highest selling work at US $1.2 million. The work was a clear example of the simple rural scenes she became known for.


A 1942 piece, The Old Checkered House, 1862 was appraised at the Memphis 2004 Antiques Roadshow. The painting was a summer scene in Geneva, New York, not as common as her winter landscapes. Originally purchased in the 1940s for under $10, the piece was assigned an insurance value of $60,000 by the appraiser, Alan Fausel.

Another of her paintings, Fourth of July, was painted in honor of President Eisenhower and still hangs today in the White House.

The name of the character of "Granny Moses" on the popular 1960s rural comedy television series The Beverly Hillbillies was an homage to Grandma Moses.


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