The following biographical information is excerpted from an article posted on the Web. I added the pictures and a little epilogue. Remember, usually if you click on the pictures you can enlarge them for better viewing.
ANNA MARY ROBERTSON MOSES (1860-1961), better known as "GRANDMA" MOSES, was born into a farming family on 7 September 1860 in Greenwich, Washington County, NY.
One of 10 children of Russell King Robertson and his wife Mary, Anna Robertson grew up understanding fully both the hard work of farming and the good times of rural life. In 1873, when she was 12 years old, she went to work as a servant on a neighbouring farm. She worked in service for about 14 years. Then she met a "God-fearing hired man" two years her junior, Thomas Salmon MOSES (1862-1927) of Hoosick, Rensselaer County, NY. She was already 27 years old - unusually late for the times - when she married Thomas Moses on 9 November 1887. Thomas Moses had heard that there were opportunities for those who went south at this time, and he and his wife decided to move to the Carolinas. En route, they stopped off to visit friends who lived in the Shenandoah Valley, near Staunton, Augusta County, Virginia. The friends persuaded the Moseses to settle there instead, and they did. Thomas and Anna Moses farmed this mountainous, rocky part of western Virginia at quite a few locations for about 16years. Sometimes they were tenant farmers, but twice, in 1896 and again in 1903, they bought farms. During her time in Virginia, Anna Moses churned and sold butter to augment the family income. She is also reported to have made and sold potato chips. Despite her relatively late start, Anna Moses gave birth to 10 children, of whom five died in childhood and were buried near their Virginia home.
In 1905, when Anna Moses was 45 years old, their farmhouse in Virginia burned, and Thomas Moses decided to return to his native Hoosick, Rensselaer County, NY. He, his wife Anna and their five surviving children moved from Augusta County, VA to Rensselaer County, NY. Anna Moses later spoke of her great sadness at having to leave behind the graves of her five dear deceased children when they moved away from Virginia. Not long after their return to New York state, Thomas and Anna Moses bought a dairy farm called Mount Nebo, situated near the hamlet of Eagle Bridge in the town of Hoosick, Rensselaer County, NY. For about 20 years, Thomas and Anna Moses and their children worked this farm. Thomas Moses died there on 15 January 1927; Anna Moses was 67 when she became a widow. Her son Forrest Moses continued to work Mount Nebo farm, and Anna Moses continued to live there for two years while
also caring for her ill daughter Anna, who had married her first cousin Frank MOSES. Frank and Anna Moses resided with their daughters in nearby Bennington, Bennington County, Vermont, and Anna Moses Moses had contracted tuberculosis. Anna Robertson Moses continued the hard work of farming until the onset of arthritis. She then devoted more of her time to needlepoint, until the arthritis made it impossible for her fingers to do the very close work that needlepoint requires. When her daughter Anna died Anna Robertson Moses ran her son-in-law's household in Bennington and looked after her granddaughters for two years, until her son-in-law remarried in February 1935 and his new wife took over the running of the household.
It was then that Anna Moses, by now 74 years old, at last had some time to paint, and paint in earnest she did. She had enjoyed drawing all her life and could recall using berry juices to add colour to her childhood drawings in nearby Washington County, NY. But there was much work to do on a farm, and her father had encouraged his little girl to spend her time working, not drawing. Her brothers reportedly teased her about the "lamb scapes" she drew. But during these years and later while she was in service, the young Anna Robertson tucked away in her mind her vivid observations about scenes of ordinary daily life in this part of New York state. At first, her painting was as a hobby and nothing more.
She was prolific; during the nearly 30 years of her painting career, she produced more than 1,500 works. She lived sometimes with her son Forrest K. Moses on Mount Nebo farm and sometimes with her youngest son, Hugh W. Moses (1900-1949). It was her daughter (one source says it was a daughter-in-law) who first recognised her talent. This daughter (and if it was a daughter not a daughter-in-law, then this would have been Winona Moses) arranged to have four of Anna Robertson Moses's paintings displayed in the window of W. D. Thomas's drug store in the village of Hoosick Falls, Rensselaer County, NY in 1938, at which time Anna Moses was 77 years old. During the Easter holidays of that year, a New York City engineer and amateur art collector named Louis J. CALDOR, while travelling through the area, just happened to stop off in Hoosick Falls and see these paintings in the drug-store window. He saw in them great potential, and he purchased all the displayed paintings on the spot. He also sought out the artist and bought "all 15" of her paintings. It was Louis Caldor who launched Anna Robertson Moses on her professional career. He arranged for three of her paintings to be included in an October 1939 exhibition of "Contemporary Unknown American Painters" at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. "Grandma" Moses became an overnight sensation - at the age of 79 years.
"Grandma" Moses celebrated her 100th birthday on 7 September 1960. New York Governor Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller proclaimed the day "Grandma Moses Day" in her honor. She died on 13 December 1961 at Hoosick Falls at the age of 101 years and was buried beside her husband in the New Upper Maple Grove Cemetery at the south end of Main Street in the village of Hoosick Falls, in the town of Hoosick, Rensselaer County, NY. The gravestone of Anna M. Robertson wife of Thomas S. Moses is inscribed with this epitaph: "Her primitive paintings captured the spirit and preserved the scene of a vanishing countryside." She had outlived at least seven of her 10 children; one son, Forrest K. Moses (1893-1974), survived her.
Art historians classify "Grandma" Moses as an "American primitive" painter. Her style was often copied by others. In her own family, her son Forrest K. Moses also showed a talent for painting, as did his grandson ("Grandma" Moses's great-grandson), Will MOSES, who today continues his painting and resides with his wife, Sharon, and their children Jerry MOSES, Lloyd MOSES and Georgianna MOSES at the same 200-year-old Mount Nebo farm in Eagle Bridge where "Grandma" Moses lived and painted. "Grandma" Moses's paintings hang in public and private collections all over the world.
I bought a numbered Will Moses print about 15 or more years ago called Skating Party and I love it. And I just love that he is continuing his great grandmother's legacy in this way. I plan to get another print someday soon. The framer I bought it from will frame a second one in matching frames even after all these years. I better get another one while they are still in business, I guess. It is hard to tell the difference between his great grandmother's paintings and his own, don't you think?
Ever since I was a little girl I have been fascinated by Grandma Moses' story. The reason for that is probably because my grandmother Hall had Grandma Moses wallpaper in her stairway and Grandma Moses lampshades in her living room. I spent long periods of time sitting on the stairs studying that wallpaper. We all knew the story, as did everyone back then. Because my grandmother admired her paintings and was inspired by her story, Anna Robertson Moses became a role model for me. Grandma Moses' story is even more of an inspiration to me now that I am halfway through my life. (I plan to live well past 100, you know.) At the age of 79 she was "discovered"! I want to be discovered, too! And from this story I still have 25 years to figure out what for!
Have a wonderful Saturday.