National Grandma Moses Day on September 7th celebrates the birth of Anna Mary Robertson Moses. This talented artist’s birthday is commemorated each year.
Anna Mary Robertson Moses (September 7, 1860 – December 13, 1961) serves as an inspiration to those who start a career late in life. For most of her life, Anna Moses was known as either “Mother Moses” or “Grandma Moses.” She’s especially inspirational since Grandma Moses began a career in the arts at an advanced age.
Road to Success
After arthritis made it difficult for Mrs. Moses to embroider, she turned to painting as a creative outlet. She picked up the medium in her 70s. Mrs. Moses’ pastoral scenes depicting small-town and country life appealed to many. Since she displayed her artwork at a local drugstore, travelers often saw her work. One day, an amateur art collector discovered the immensely beautiful work of Mrs. Moses. The collector, Louis J. Caldor, convinced the Museum of Modern Art to include Moses in a members-only folk art show. Eventually, Caldor’s discovery and the MOMA opportunity led to a one-woman show.
Soon, Mrs. Moses found a large, global following. While Moses displayed her work under the name Mrs. Moses, the press eagerly dubbed her “Grandma Moses” and the name stuck.
Many publications would use of Grandma Moses’ paintings to publicize American holidays, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and Mother’s Day. In 1947, Grandma Moses was featured in True Confessions. The magazine noted, “Grandma Moses remains prouder of her preserves than of her paintings and proudest of all of her four children, eleven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.”
Grandma Moses’ popularity grew. At one point in the 1950s her exhibitions broke attendance records all over the world. As part of her 100th birthday celebration, LIFE magazine featured Grandma Moses on the September 16, 1960, cover.
Grandma Moses Awards and Honors
- 1950 – Cited as one of the five most newsworthy women.
- 1951 – Honored as Woman of the Year by the National Association of House Dress Manufacturers.
- Age 88 – Mademoiselle Magazine named her “Young Woman of the Year.”
- Awarded the first honorary doctorate from Philadelphia’s Moore College of Art.
- 1969 – A United States commemorative stamp issued in her honor.
- 2006 – Her work Sugaring Off (1943) became her highest selling work at US $1.2 million. Sugaring Off was a prime example of the simple rural scenes for which she was well-known.
- Otto Kallir gives the Grandma Moses’ painting, Fourth of July, to the White House where it still hangs today.
HOW TO OBSERVE #GrandmaMosesDay
Explore the artwork of Anna Mary Robertson Moses. You might be surprised to know how familiar she is to you. Use #GrandmaMosesDay to post on social media.
NATIONAL GRANDMA MOSES DAY HISTORY
New York Governor, Nelson Rockefeller, proclaimed September 7th as Grandma Moses Day in 1960 in honor of Grandma Moses’s 100th birthday.
From one old “Grandma to another” that would be “Grandma Aldrich to Grandma Moses, herself” – “WE old Grandmas’ have to stick together, on a thing or two! That is, If – I say so myself!”
“This grand, old world, is so LUCKY, just to have an extra couple of OLD GRANDMAS!” D.V.