by Grandma Moses
Anna Mary was the third child born into the Robertson family in 1860. There
would eventually be ten children in the family. She was raised on a farm,
attended school for a while, then when she was 12 years old she left home to
become a hired hand at a near-by farm.
She worked hard all the time she was growing up, then when she was in her
twenties she married a man named Thomas Salmon Moses who was also a hired
worker. They rented different farms and were finally able to buy a farm of their
own. They had ten children, but five of them died when they were babies. They
were able to raise five of them.
At this time she was called Mother Moses. She could do many things and
enjoyed doing needlework such as sewing and embroidering. With thread she
would make pictures on the fabric, but she had arthritis and it hurt her
hands to push the needle through the material. When she was in her late
seventies she decided to take up painting which was easier on her hands than
needlework. Her first painting was made using housepaint.
She is called a "primitive" artist because she painted simple pictures, and
she taught herself how to paint. In 1938 she has some pictures displayed in a
drugstore window when an art collector from New York happened to see them. The
story is told that Anna Mary's daughter-in-law told the man that Grandma had ten
paintings she might sell. When she and Anna Mary counted the paintings, there
were only nine, so Grandma cut a large picture in half and reframed it into two
pictures to make the ten paintings.
The man, Louis Caldor, asked someone to display some of her pictures in a
collection called "Contemporary Unknown American Painters". Nothing happened as
a result of that showing.
Then he introduced the owner of Galerie Saint Etienne to her works and Otto
Kallir exhibited her paintings in his New York City art gallery. The exhibit was
called "What a Farm Wife Painted". By the time she was 80 years old, many people
had heard of "Grandma Moses" and had seen her paintings.
She appeared on the Edward R. Murrow television show and showed people how to
paint a picture.
She painted many pictures during her lifetime. When she was 100 years old she
painted illustrations for "Twas the Night Before Christmas". She died at age
Her paintings continue to be enjoyed by people of all ages.