Born On: September 7, 1860
Born In: Greenwich, New York
Died On: December 13, 1961
Anna Mary Robertson Moses, famously known as “Grandma Moses”, was one of America’s famous painters in the primitive genre. She was inspired by her childhood memories thus portraying homely farm life, rural life and countryside through straightforward realism, luminous colors and reflective atmospheres. She was a self taught artist who combined observations, memories and local traditions to craft a one of a kind folk painting style. She received a great recognition and fame in the field of art though she began her career at an advanced stage. She was suffering from arthritis and thus she had to give up a career in embroidery and opted for painting in her seventies. She was a major influence on many upcoming artists. At the age of 80, her fascinating paintings caught the attention of the public in 1940. Read on to know more about the profile, childhood, life and timeline of Anna Mary Robertson.
Anna Mary Robertson was born in Greenwich, New York on September 7, 1860. Born in a farmer’s family, she was the third child out of ten of Russell King Robertson and Margaret Shannahan. She had a delightful childhood and was a hard working kid who spent most of her time in the family’s farms. Since early on, she always showed an interest in drawing. Her father appreciated her love for drawing and used to buy large sheets of blank newspaper for her to draw on. Owing to a lack of warm clothes, she got to attend schools only during summers. She earned her living by working at homes as a hired girl near the family farm in her twelfth year.
At the age of 27, she married a farmer Thomas Salmon Moses and worked with him on their farm until he died in 1927. She raised a family of 5 children, cooked a billion meals, canned, gardened, sewed, cleaned, butchered and carried out millions of other everyday tasks at the farm. On a brighter side, she was blessed enough to have lived long enough to pursue a career in painting.
After her husband’s death, and at the age of 76, due to arthritis, she was forced to quit embroidery. So in the 1930’s, she took up what she loved doing as a child: painting. She sold pickles and paintings at the country fair and also displayed some of her works in the local drugstore’s window. Fate knocked at her doorstep when a leading art collector and engineer, Louis Caldor, passed through Hoosick Falls. He was so impressed with her paintings that he immediately bought all her works. Due to his recommendation, Moses’ work was included in MoMA exhibition in 1939. Her pictures were being exhibited internationally by 1939, and they were regularly replicated on holiday greeting cards from 1946.
Grandma Moses first publically displayed her paintings in the ‘Contemporary Unknown Painters’ show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Next in the pipeline was her solo show at the New York City which gave her immediate fame, glory, recognition and admiration.
Anna Mary Robertson’s paintings portrayed happiness, pleasure and joy in all her paintings. None of her paintings had the slightest feel of unhappiness or misery. Even the colors she used depicted their own story, such as lighter shades of green meant spring, white signified winters, dark green stood for summers and brown represented autumn. Thus her paintings left a permanent mark in the minds and souls of art lovers. Some of her popular paintings are Over the River to Grandma's House, Sugaring Off, The Old Oaken Bucket and Catching the Turkey.
Moses died at the age of 101 and by that time she had painted more than 1600 works of art over a 20-year career. She made a permanent place for herself in almost all American homes with greeting cards, radio and television interviews and a licensing program that included everything from fabric to collector plates. Her down-to-earth integrity, her message of hope and her example of a productive later life was very inspiring for others in the Cold War era.
In 1946, one of Grandma Moses’s paintings called “The Old Checkered Inn” was featured in the backdrop of a national advertising campaign, for the young women’s lip gloss Primitive Red, by Du Barry cosmetics. In 1949, she was awarded with Women’s National Press Club trophy Award for her dazzling success in art. In 1951 she also appeared on a show called “See It Now” - a television program hosted by Edward R. Murrow. In 1952, her autobiography was published titled “Grandma Moses: My Life’s History”. On her 100th birthday, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller announced the day as ‘Grandma Moses Day’ to honor her incredible talent. Much after her death, in 2006, her work ‘Sugaring Off’ became her highest selling work worth 1.2 million US dollars. ‘Fourth of July’ is one of her paintings that still hangs in the walls of the White House, which she painted in honor of President Eisenhower.
In 1887, Anna Mary Robertson got married at the age of 27 to Thomas Salmon Moses, a farmer. The couple set off for a farm in Virginia. She had ten children, out of which 5 died at birth and only 5 survived. She single handedly raised all 5 children by doing all sorts of farm work.
Anna Mary Robertson died at the age of 101 on December 13, 1961. She was admitted to the Hoosick Falls Health Center after a fall at her home. The reason of her death according to the doctors was a "hardening of the arteries".
1860: Anna Mary Robertson was born.
1887: She got married to Thomas Salmon Moses.
1907: Family moved to Eagle Bridge, N.Y., where Grandma Moses spent the rest of her life.
1938: Louis Caldor, an art collector and engineer, discovered Grandma Moses’ paintings.
1946: She was awarded the Women's National Press Club trophy Award.
1949: She appeared on a TV show ‘See It Now’
1952: Her autobiography titled ‘Grandma Moses: My Life's History’ was published.
1961: She died.