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Grandma Moses

(1860—1961) American painter


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(b nr. Greenwich, Washington County, NY, 7 Sept. 1860; d Hoosick Falls, NY, 13 Dec. 1961).

The most famous of American naive painters. She took up painting in her seventies (initially copying postcards and Currier and Ives prints) after arthritis made her unable to continue with embroidery, with which she had regularly won prizes at country fairs. Her first exhibition was held in a drugstore at Hoosick Falls, NY, in 1938. She was then ‘discovered’ by a collector, Louis J. Caldor, and had a one-woman show in New York in 1940 at the age of 80. Thereafter she rapidly became famous and something of a national institution, her work being widely reproduced, notably on Christmas cards. In 1949 she was received at the White House by President Harry Truman and in 1960 Governor Nelson Rockefeller proclaimed her 100th birthday ‘Grandma Moses Day’ in New York State. She produced more than a thousand pictures (working on a sort of production-line system, three or four at a time, painting first the skies and last the figures), her favourite subjects being scenes of what she called the ‘old-timey’ farm life she had known in her younger days. Examples are in many American collections, notably the Bennington Museum, Vermont.

Subjects: Arts and Humanities — Social and Cultural History — History of Art — Art — Language Reference.


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