History of Grandma Moses

Updated on July 2, 2018
elayne001 profile image

Ruth, aka Elayne Kongaika, was raised in the orchard town of Orem, Utah. She married a Polynesian boy and has had amazing travel experiences

A German proverb says, “The oldest trees often bear the sweetest fruit." Besides my own Grandmother Anderson, an amazing self-taught artist, Grandma Moses, truly inspires me. Anna Mary Robertson, a painter known as Grandma Moses, lived until she was 101 years old. She only started painting when she was 76 years old. Her paintings hang in nine museums in the United States, Paris, and Vienna.

The reason she took up painting so late in life is because arthritis had made it impossible for her to hold her needle to embroider, her favorite hobby. However, she could hold a brush just fine, and not wanting to be idle, she began painting. Today, she is one of the best-known American artists in Europe.

Granda Moses' Quotes

  • “If I didn’t start painting, I would have raised chickens.”
  • “I paint from the top down. From the sky, then the mountains, then the hill, then the houses, then the cattle, and then the people.”
  • “I look back on my life like a good day’s work, it was done and I feel satisfied with it. I was happy and contented; I knew nothing better and made the best out of what life offered. And life is what we make it, always has been, always will be.”

Grandma Moses had her own unique style, which proved to be very popular. Well known for nostalgic scenes in gay colors, she illustrated farm life and the countryside. She had a knack for bringing a simple scene to life.

An art collector saw some of her paintings in a drug store priced from $3 to $5 each. He purchased all of her available art, and the following year she ended up having an exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Her art was reproduced on Hallmark Christmas cards, on tiles and fabrics throughout the world.

A German fan said of her art:

There emanates from her paintings a light-hearted optimism; the world she shows us is beautiful and it is good. You feel at home in all these pictures, and you know their meaning. The unrest and the neurotic insecurity of the present day make us inclined to enjoy the simple and affirmative outlook of Grandma Moses.

Grandma Moses painted only from her memory. She wanted to share how she lived when she was young with everyone. In her 25 years of painting, she produced more than 1,000 pictures, 25 of which she painted after she turned 100 years old. The price of her paintings $3 to $5 each to $8,000 to $10,000 each. One of her paintings, Sugaring Off (1943), was her highest selling work, bought for $1.2 million USD in November of 2006.

Her work has been compared to that of Henri Rousseau. The particular style they share designates those artists who live in a developed and sophisticated society, but are not trained in artistic perception and lighting. In Grandma Moses’ words, “we make amateur art that sells."

I would be happy to have a tenth of the fame Grandma Moses did with her art. She is truly inspirational and she was not worried about technique or criticism. She just loved painting.

Alas, the story of Grandma Moses would not be complete without the other part of her biography, which is that she had given birth to ten children, half of which died in infancy. She started working as a hired girl at age 12, and continued until she was 27 when she met and married Thomas Salmon Moses. As an adult, she lived in Virginia and made butter and potato chips, selling them to her neighbors. She continued to run the farm with her son after her husband passed.

One of Grandma Moses’ paintings, Fourth of July, hangs in the White House, and was painted in honor of President Eisenhower.

Questions & Answers

    © 2009 Elayne

    Comments

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    • elayne001 profile imageAUTHOR

      Elayne 

      6 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      I appreciate your comment Emerald3354. Glad you found my hub about Grandma Moses interesting.

    • profile image

      Emerald3354 

      6 years ago

      Thank you for this wonderful story about an artist.

    • elayne001 profile imageAUTHOR

      Elayne 

      7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      Thank you markomitic. I appreciate your positive comments.

    • markomitic profile image

      markomitic 

      7 years ago from Toronto

      Beautiful hub. Thank you for existing. I am an artist myself.

    • elayne001 profile imageAUTHOR

      Elayne 

      8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      Thanks so much Barbara Kay. I appreciate your commenting.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 

      8 years ago from USA

      This is an excellent Hub. I enjoyed it.

    • elayne001 profile imageAUTHOR

      Elayne 

      8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      Thanks Slainia. Glad you enjoyed the hub about an amazing lady.

    • Slainia profile image

      Slainia 

      8 years ago from Goderich Ontario

      Lovely insight, Elayne. Sounds like she's a real inspiration to a lot of people. Thanks for a great hub, for both interest and information.

    • elayne001 profile imageAUTHOR

      Elayne 

      8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      Thanks for summing it up great!

    • profile image

      donna garcia 

      8 years ago

      this story tells that you can achieve at any age at any time and with different venues than you may have ever worked with or expreniced. Life is what you make of it not what it makes of you.

    • elayne001 profile imageAUTHOR

      Elayne 

      8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      Grandma Moses is an inspiration to me and many I imagine. Thanks for stopping by and especially for leaving your comments. Aloha

    • profile image

      cosette 

      8 years ago

      sweet hub and a very great painter. thanks for honoring her!

    • elayne001 profile imageAUTHOR

      Elayne 

      8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      Great! Grandma Moses is one of my idols! Thanks for your comment habee

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      My mom was an artist and a fan of Grandma Moses. Good hub!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 

      8 years ago from the short journey

      How nice to see Grandma Moses high-lighted here. Thank you!

      Looking forward to reading more of your work.

    • elayne001 profile imageAUTHOR

      Elayne 

      8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      Thank you kysnoopyq42. I agree - she is an inspiration!

    • kysnoopyq42 profile image

      kysnoopyq42 

      8 years ago from no where

      What a lovely Article. What a lovely person.

    • elayne001 profile imageAUTHOR

      Elayne 

      8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      Thank you Keira7. You are so sweet. Aloha!

    • keira7 profile image

      keira7 

      8 years ago

      Lovely hub my dear. You are a great writer. God Bless.:)

    • LianaK profile image

      LianaK 

      8 years ago

      Wonderful. I too have never heard her story either, but definitely am a fan of her work!

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 

      8 years ago

      Wonderful read. Thanks..

    • profile image

      Tammy Lochmann 

      8 years ago

      I always loved her style of painting, but I never knew the story.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you so much for your writing and sharing this lovely story. A great lady to be proud of.

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