Grandma Moses

Grandma Moses in 1953

Grandma Moses in 1953

Anna Mary Robertson Moses, an American folk artist better known as Grandma Moses, was born September 7, 1860. She spent most of her life on the farm, but became wildly popular as a painter in the last decades of her life. She was featured on the cover of LIFE magazine to celebrate her 100th birthday in 1960. Her rustic, rural scenes appeared on everything from dresses to dinnerware. Her exhibitions broke attendance records, and at the age of 88, “Mademoiselle” magazine named her a “Young Woman of the Year.”

Known by family and friends for her beautiful works of embroidery, Moses didn’t begin painting until her late 70s, after retiring from the farm to her daughter’s home in 1936. Two years later, in 1938, a New York art collector, Louis J. Caldor, saw her paintings in a drugstore window priced at $3 – $5. He bought them all, then visited her at home and bought more. Her painting appeared at the Museum of Modern Art in an exhibit titled “Contemporary Unknown American Painters,” and her first solo exhibition followed quickly in October 1940.

Photo is Moses when she donated a painting to the DAR in 1953, taken by Roger Higgins, staff reporter for the New York World-Telegram & Sun (PD, courtesy Library of Congress.)

Find out what else happened on September 7 in Women’s History.

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