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Anna Mary Robertson
"Grandma Moses"
1860-1961

Clearly an Artist with Qualities Identical with Genius

Perhaps the most remarkable American artist was Anna Mary Robertson Moses. She had little schooling, certainly none in art, and she didn't really begin to paint in earnest until she was 70. ■ It was not until she was 80 that her name appeared in the New York Herald-Tribune, the first newspaper mention of her paintings as "great folk art." She was honored by three U.S. Presidents and her work appeared in exhibitions throughout Europe. Anna Mary Robertson was born September 7, 1860, in Greenwich, New York. Her paternal great-grandfather was Archibald Robertson, who was born in Scotland in 1748 and emigrated to America in 1770. Her material great-grandfather, John Shonan, also was born in Scotland.■ Her father Russell was a farmer with artistic talent which he suppressed because of the press of farm chores. Anna Mary showed similar tendencies early, but she was one of 10 children at a time when girls were not expected to receive much schooling. ■ She hired out as a domestic at age 12 and was married to Thomas S. Moses in 1887. She had ten children, five survived. Busy farming and rearing a family, Anna Mary had little time for painting until well past retirement age. She kept on farming after her husband died in 1927. ■ Her art dramatized the simple rural life of America's youth. Some of the titles of her paintings conjure up images of early America like Home for Thanksgiving, First Skating, etc. ■ When she died December 13, 1961, at Hossick Falls, New York, President Kennedy eulogized her as "a beloved figure in American life." She was 101. A postage stamp was issued in her honor in 1969. A British critic once said, "She is clearly an artist with qualities identical with genius."
 

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society
Scottish-American History Club
2800 Des Plaines Avenue
North Riverside, IL 60546

2014