Grandma Moses at The Art Complex in Duxbury

It’s pure serendipity that The Art Complex Museum’s exhibit of one of Grandma Moses’ well-known paintings coincided with her being featured on the popular CBS Sunday Morning Show. In her over one hundred year lifetime, Grandma Moses produced 1600 paintings. When asked, during one of many television interviews, if it were difficult to part with her paintings, she quickly replied, “No, it isn’t. I like the money.”

Anna Mary Robertson who came to be known as Grandma Moses was born on September 7, 1860, in Greenwich, a small farming community in upstate New York close to Bennington, Vermont. At the age of twelve, she began working as a “hired girl” on a neighboring farm until, at the age of 27, she married Thomas Salmon Moses.

They began married life as tenant farmers in Staunton, Virginia. Anna Mary immediately fell in love with the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. She strongly believed in pulling her weight and bought a cow with her own savings to supplement the family income by churning butter. She also made and sold potato chips. She gave birth to ten children, of whom only five survived infancy.

Her comment, when they returned North in 190, shows her dry sense of humor. “I don’t think a bit has changed since we left,” she said. “The gates are hanging on one hinge since I went away” She began stitching what she called “worsted” pictures but when arthritis made it hard for her to hold a needle, her sister suggested she paint instead.

Soon Moses had more paintings than she could use. She sent some to the country fair, along with her canned fruits and jams. “I won a prize for my fruit and jam but no(ne for the) pictures.”

Eventually, she was discovered by New York City collector Louis Caldor. Her work was shown in an exhibition “What a Farmwife Painted” at the Galerie St. Etienne in 1940. When she appeared with her work at a Thanksgiving Festival organized by Gimbels Department Store, her career took off. The media was delighted with her work and the story behind it.

Traveling exhibitions over the next twenty years brought her work to more than thirty American states and ten European nations. In 1946 the first monograph on her life and work was edited – “Grandma Moses: American Primitive” and her first Christmas cards were printed

Grandma Moses life and work have always been inspirational. She was featured on the cover of Time Magazine. Life sent noted photographer Cornell Capa to do a cover story on her 100th birthday. She passed away several months after her 101st birthday, on December 13, 1961. Her death was front page news all over America and throughout much of Europe.

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© Copyright 2015 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed
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