(American, September 7, 1860–December 13, 1961) was a painter whose American Folk Art broke exhibition attendance records regularly. Moses, born Anna Mary Robertson, is known primarily as a painter. However, she actually began her artistic work as an embroiderer. Her fine needlework was well admired locally, but served as a hobby rather than a profession. However, by the time she hit her late 70s, holding the needle for embroidery became too painful, so she switched to painting instead. She had no training in art, and she started to create her earliest works as gifts.
Her earlier works show the lack of art education in their primitiveness, lacking a sense of perspective but featuring a realistic style
. Most of these early paintings were given away, but Grandma Moses did manage a few sales, charging US$2 or US $3 depending on painting size, with the larger paintings being more expensive. Her discovery by a wider audience came about due to the purchases of her paintings by a New York art collector in 1938. The collector, Louis J. Caldor, bought as many of her works as possible, and then exhibited them at the Museum of Modern Art in New York at a Contemporary Unknown American Painters
exhibition. Her paintings made such a positive impact on the exhibition viewers that she was given her first solo exhibition in 1940 at the Galerie St. Etienne in New York. Her What a Farm Wife Painted
exhibition was a success and an additional exhibition followed at Gimbel''s Department Store, with the display of 50 paintings at their Thanksgiving Festival. After the Gimbel''s display, her paintings became collector''s items.
Grandma Moses''s popularity was driven in large part by her grandmotherly image. Her status as a farm wife was often remarked upon at her exhibitions, with the Gimbel''s exhibition including a table filled with her cooked goods located just under the painting to emphasize her origins. She produced a large number of paintings throughout her career, creating some 1,600 canvasses. Some of this work was used as advertisements, or reproduced in a number of mediums from Christmas
cards to fabrics. The painting The Old Checkered Inn
, for example, was used as background for a lip gloss advertising campaign. After her death, Grandma Moses’s work remained popular, with one painting, Sugaring Off
, created in 1943, selling for US$1.2 million in 2006.
Grandma Moses’s work brought her many honors. She was given an award for outstanding achievement in art by the Women''''s National Press Club in 1951, presented to her by US President Truman, and, in 1960, she had her 100th birthday declared Grandma Moses Day by the New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller. Moses published an autobiography in 1952 titled Grandma Moses: My Life''s History
. Her work is still in high demand, and her estate is represented through the Galerie St. Etienne in New York.