Grandma Moses

born Greenwich, NY 1860-died Hoosick Falls, NY 1961
Grandma Moses sits posing in a chair

National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Katie Louchheim

Also known as
  • Anna Mary Robertson Moses
  • Anna Mary Robertson
  • Anna Mary Moses
Greenwich, New York, United States
Hoosick Falls, New York, United States
Active in
  • Eagle Bridge, New York, United States
  • Virginia, United States

Anna Mary Robertson Moses grew up on a farm in upstate New York, where she worked as a hired girl, helping neighbors and relatives with cleaning, cooking, and sewing. Her father encouraged her to draw on old newsprint, and she used berry and grape juices to brighten her images. She married when she was twenty-seven and moved to a farm in Virginia, where she raised five children. Grandma Moses did not start painting until she was seventy-seven years old and looking for something to do “to keep busy and out of mischief” after her husband died. She painted nostalgic scenes of American life and sold them at country fairs alongside her prize-winning pickles. In 1939 a collector saw her paintings in the window of the local pharmacy and bought them all. Soon after, Hallmark purchased the rights to reproduce her paintings on greeting cards and the name Grandma Moses became known across the country. She died at 101, after painting more than fifteen hundred images.