Thursday, December 12, 2019

Grandma Moses - From Farm Girl to Famous Artist

By Kathy Kovach

Grandma Moses signature*
Before Pinterest was even a thing, my parents came up with a unique idea for a large picture over the sofa. Mom found some material at the local fabric store that depicted a snowy country rural scene with houses and barns, leafless trees, horses, wooden fences, and a flurry of activity. These comprise the work entitled, Early Springtime on the Farm, painted by Grandma Moses in 1945.

I remember my parents laying the fabric over an old kitchen table we kept downstairs for craft projects and gift wrapping. Over the next few days, perhaps even a month, my family would take glitter and glue it on parts of the print. Red glitter for a red jacket, green glitter for a tree, white for snow, etc. They’d work on it in passing, letting the glue dry in between dabs. What emerged was a unique piece of art that was then matted and encased in a glassed-in wooden frame. This 24 x 46 masterpiece hung in our living room for a couple of decades. It now hangs over my sofa.

Anna Mary Robertson 1860s

Anna Mary Robertson was born in Greenwich, New York on September 7, 1860. As one of ten children on her parents’ farm, she left home at age twelve to work for a neighbor. She eventually met and married Thomas Moses in 1887 and the two settled into rural life in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. There, they raised five children, but lost another five in infancy.

With two of her children
Estimate between 1890 and 1910

The couple moved their family to a farm in Eagle Bridge, New York, but it wouldn’t be until thirteen years later, at the age of fifty-eight, that she would attempt her first painting on a fireboard in her home. Even then, she never pursued art as a career until much later after her beloved husband died. To help with her grief, she would often lose herself in her art, painting scenes of the country living she remembered on the farm. From snowy Christmas scenes to green and earthy summer depictions, she declared her desire to paint “so people will know how we used to live.”
1918 Fireboard

By the mid-1930s, when she was in her seventies, she had become fully invested in her art. Some of her pieces hung in a local store where an art collector, Louis J. Caldor, liked them and bought them all. From there, her paintings went on to be displayed at the Museum of Art in New York and became a prominent feature at Gimbel’s Department Store.
Gimbel's Department Store
A decade later, her paintings were printed on greeting cards, where even more people could appreciate and come to love the self-taught artist. At the age of 89, she won the Women’s National Press Club award for her artistic achievement which she received from President Harry Truman. By the end of her career, she had created approximately 1500 works of art.
Grandma Moses stamp 1969
On her 100th birthday, New York governor Nelson Rockefeller declared September 7, 1960 as Grandma Moses Day. She passed away after her 101st birthday.

From farm girl to farm wife to treasured artist, Grandma Moses went on to become a world-renowned name in American folklore.

*All images attributed to Wikimedia Commons unless otherwise noted.

MissAdventure Brides Romance Collection
Seven daring damsels don’t let the norms of their eras hold them back. Along the way these women attract the attention of men who admire their bravery and determination, but will they let love grow out of the adventures? Includes:
"Riders of the Painted Star" by Kathleen E. Kovach
1936 Arizona
Zadie Fitzpatrick, an artist from New York, is commissioned to go on location in Arizona to paint illustrations for an author of western novels and falls for the male model.

Kathleen E. Kovach is a Christian romance author published traditionally through Barbour Publishing, Inc. as well as indie. Kathleen and her husband Jim raised two sons while living the nomadic lifestyle for over twenty years in the Air Force. Now planted in northeast Colorado she's a grandmother, though much too young for that. Kathleen is a longstanding member of American Christian Fiction Writers. An award-winning author, she presents spiritual truths with a giggle, proving herself as one of God's peculiar people.


  1. Thank you for posting. Grandma Moses is one of my favorite artists. I've read the MisAdventures collection. Wonderful stories!

    1. Her art was unique, and I'm excited to now know the rest of her story. What a strong woman! I'm so happy you enjoyed our collection. Thanks for the encouragement.

  2. Thanks for reminding us about this wonderful woman! I haven't seen much of her art, I'll have to look her up. I love your family artwork idea!!

    1. I hope you do check her out. To think she was self-taught is remarkable! I love my family artwork, too, even though I was too little to work on it. I didn't put that in the article, but I remember wanting to help. It was probably wise not to let a six-year-old get her fingers in the glitter. lol

  3. I love Grandma Moses’ art. My mother was an Antique Dealer. She found a large print of Grandma Moses, she might have even sent away for it. She matted it with contact paper in a pink speckled pattern, so it might have been a spring or summer scene. It hung on our kitchen wall. I loved looking at the detail. Thanks for bringing back memories.

  4. How cool! So she, like my mom, could have had a Pinterest page back in the day. :)

  5. This is really cool!! Next time I'm over I want to study it!