DescriptionGRANDMA MOSES (American, 1860-1961)
The Old Checkered House in Cambridge Valley, 1943
Oil on masonite
21-3/4 x 29-3/4 inches (55.2 x 75.6 cm)
Signed lower center: MOSES.; also titled The Old Checkered House in Cambridge Valley dated 1943 and numbered 466 on an original Grandma Moses label affixed verso (Copyright reserved to Grandma Moses Properties Co., New York)
Collection of Mrs. David Shelly;
Hammer Galleries, New York (label verso).
The Artist's Record Book, no. 466, p. 24 (with "1862" after title);
O. Kallir, Grandma Moses, New York, 1973, p. 292, no. 302, illus.
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.
The Old Checkered House in Cambridge Valley derives from one of Grandma Moses's most famous series of a historic inn on the Cambridge Turnpike in Washington County near her childhood home. As a youth in the 1870s, she remembered seeing the landmark building with its bold façade of fourteen-inch red-and-white checkers. Built in 1765 and destroyed by fire in 1907, the inn was seized by the British during the Revolutionary War and served as both officers' headquarters and a hospital for General Baum's troops after their defeat at the Battle of Bennington; during the War of 1812, it housed American soldiers en route to the Lake Champlain battlefields; and by the mid 19th-century, it acted as a regular staging post for stagecoach drivers.
From 1941-1959, Grandma Moses painted more than twenty versions of the Checkered House, in both summer and winter landscapes. Most from the series include soldiers in uniform, a general reference to the inn's military history, as well as travelers arriving or departing in horse-drawn carriages or sleighs. The Old Checkered House in Cambridge Valley is noteworthy in its inclusion of a distant steam locomotive, referencing the 1870s when she would have visited the inn, and winter recreation, notably children joyfully sledding in the foreground. As in most of Grandma Moses's landscapes, the house functions as a focal point, formally and conceptually: it is the anchor for the composition and the anchor for the activities of her beloved rural community.
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.
1-inch linear scratch and two minor linear accretions in upper left corner; 2-inch linear accretion near center extreme top edge; appear to be two small spots of in-painting above green and blue mountains at far left (near extreme left edge); Framed Dimensions 28.5 X 36.5 Inches
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