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Grandma Moses

Great women achieve success regardless of their economics, hardships or, in the case of Grandma Moses, their age. Anna Mary Robertson started painting when she was 76-years-old. She displayed her art in a drug store window in Hoosick Falls, New York. A collector discovered them while on vacation.

Grandma Moses
Grandma Moses

Grandma Moses sold her first works for $3-$5 each and were exhibited in New York City where she became a one-show success. Robertson painted scenes of landscapes and people that portrayed a slice of the good life where everything was beautiful, light-hearted and happy. Her work was fanciful and colorful and the good-hearted nature of the feelings that it evoked put her in high demand.

Born in 1860, Robertson was one of ten children who grew up on a farm. She married a farmer and gave birth ten times. Five of her children died at birth. When she married, her name became Anna Mary Moses. Her family and her friends called her either "Mother Moses" or "Grandma Moses." It was when she grew too old for the physical demands of farm work that she began to seek an artistic outlet. Her first pictures were embroidered out of yarn. Due to arthritis, she gave up embroidery and took up painting.

The press enjoyed Grandma Moses' story and used her art images to promote American holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and Mother's Day. Even the names of her paintings evoked good feelings, such as Sugaring Off, Catching the Turkey, Over the River to Grandma's House. She was the artistic translation of sweet old grandma's apple pie and an iconic inspiration to housewives, widows and senior citizens. Retailers began using her images on fabrics, clothing and household items such as plates and instant coffee.

Her work was so popular, that people clamored to see it wherever it was exhibited. Throughout the 1950's and 60's, she received honors from the National Press Club, the National Association of House Dress Manufacturers, Philadelphia's Moore College of Art and others. At the age of 88, she was named "Young Woman of the Year" by Mademoiselle Magazine proving that she had broken the barriers of age as well as gender. In 1949, President Truman presented her with the Women's National Press Club Trophy. In 1952, she published her autobiography Grandma Moses: My Life's History.

On her 100th birthday, LIFE Magazine featured her on the cover of the September 19, 1960 edition. New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller also proclaimed that day "Grandma Moses Day" to honor the amazing accomplishments and life of Anna Mary Moses.

After her death in 1961, her work continued to grow in popularity. Today, she is considered one of the country's most famous women folk artists in American history. There is a U.S. postage stamp that features one of her works, her Sugaring Off sold for $1.2 million in 2006, and her Fourth of July still hangs in the White House today. The famous Rockefeller painting Christmas Homecoming features Grandma Moses on the far left edge.

There is a secret you don't know …

Besides the factual Grandma Moses biography presented above there is a silly pinky-finger super-secret that you don't know. For instance when Grandma Moses was born (before the Flintstones roamed the Earth), the doctor who brought her into this world was actually named Seuss.


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