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Grandma Moses (American, 1860-1961)

Paintings

Also known as:  Anna Mary Robertson Moses; Moses, Anna Mary Robertson; Robertson, Anna Mary

Birth Place: Greenwich (Washington county, New York state, United States)

Biography:
A sense of time and place is a distinctive quality of the folk paintings of Grandma (Anna Robertston) Moses, the New York farm wife who first took up a brush in her seventies and became world-famous by the time of her death in 1961 at age 101. In her autobiography, My Life's History, Grandma Moses recounts how an art collector's serendipitous discovery of her paintings in a pharmacy in Hoosick Falls led to a gallery exhibition in New York City. She also describes how in 1887, she and her husband, Thomas Moses, moved to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, where they raised five children; they would return to Eagle Bridge, New York, in 1905 to run a dairy farm, Mt. Nebo, on the Hoosick River. These various homesteads, and their surrounding hamlets, farms, churches, mills, and historic sites, form the visual and symbolic framework for Grandma Moses's paintings; to these landscapes, she added people happily engaged in rural activities, whether harvesting, sugaring off maple syrup, or attending the county fair. It was not simply the charming, primitive style of her paintings - composed like patchwork quilts - but also their evocation of a simpler, bygone era that attracted her early patrons and helped catapult her into the limelight.

Grandma Moses' fame increased steadily after her 1940 inaugural exhibition at Otto Kallir's Galerie St. Etienne in New York. Kallir, a brilliant marketer who became her dealer, published Grandma Moses: American Primitive in 1946 and secured a deal for her with Hallmark, which printed a number of her paintings as greeting and Christmas cards. Her paintings have appeared in over 150 exhibitions in the United States and in five one-man shows abroad.

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