Grandma Moses Sold Her First Painting At Age 79 – And Other Facts

Grandma Moses

When I started painting, I was worried that I was starting at an age older than most people. My mother pointed out to me that Grandma Moses was old when she began painting.

Grandma Moses started a painting at the age of 78, and she sold her first paintings at the age of 79. She lived to be 101 years old, and throughout that time, she was a prolific painter that painted over 1500 different paintings. She never had the opportunity to attend art school, so she was a completely self-taught painter.

Many artists, including myself, are inspired by her and her ability to accomplish so much later in her life. There are so many of us who can resonate with Grandma Moses.

Here are some of our favorite fun facts about Grandma Moses

Grandma Moses Sold Her First Painting At Age 79

Typical Style of Painting by Grandma Moses
Typical Style of Painting by Grandma Moses (Anne Mary Moses)

At age 79, Grandma Moses sent some of her paintings to the Thomas Drugstore in Hoosick Falls, New York. An engineer named Louis J, Caldor noticed them and bought several of them.

Caldor eventually showed the paintings to Dr. Otto Kallier, the owner of Galerie St, Etienne. He was very impressed with her paintings.

Her First Show Was Titled – What A Farmer’s Wife Painted

Dr. Kallier was so impressed with Grandma Moses’ paintings that he invited her to open her first one-woman show on October 9, 1940.

She Started Painting At Age 78

Grandma Moses started to paint at the age of 78. Before this, she began to do a lot of needlework pictures and quilting. She would portray many colorful scenes from the farm.

But then arthritis started to settle in, and it made embroidery quite difficult and tricky. A friend of hers suggested that Grandma Moses should try to paint some of the farm scenes instead.

Early In Her Art Career She Had Limited Art Supplies

Grandma Moses was a self-taught artist living in rural New York. She had no access to high-quality art supplies in the early part of her career. She could not get any small brushes, so she used the back of matches and pins to paint detail such as eyes and mouths.

Grandma Moses was very resourceful; she used what she could find around her house to create her art.

Hallmark Reproduced Her Work

The Hallmark Card Company-licensed many paintings of Grandma Moses to be printed on their greeting cards. Hallmark sold over 16 million greeting cards featuring her paintings in 1947 alone; this shows the massive popularity that her paintings had during her lifetime and within the United States.

It did not stop in the Hallmark greeting cards; they also had fabric and dinner plates with her paintings printed on them. Someone produced a record called “The Grandma Moses Suite.”

All of this shows the popularity of a woman who spent most of her life working on a farm or as a manual laborer.

Grandma Moses Worked As A Maid At Age 12

Life was not easy for Grandma Moses. She was born on September 7, 1860, in Greenwich, New York. At the age of 12, she went to work as a maid and a neighboring farm, helping a wealthier family with the family chores.

Grandma Moses had to work as she came from a large family with nine brothers and sisters.

At the age of 18, she worked for another family, and they were kind enough to allow her to work for them and go to the local school. She met her husband Thomas Moses, a laborer at the farm.

In 19887, at the age of 27, Grandma Moses married Thomas Salmon Moses, a fellow farm laborer.

Grandma Moses And Her Painting Podcast

Listen To Our Podcast About Grandma Moses and Her Paintings below or by clicking here.

Grandma Moses Was Actually A Grandma

Grandma Moses and her husband had 10 children; only five of those children lived to adulthood; in the 1940s, her neighbors, friends, and family started to call her Grandma Moses.

Grandma Moses had nine grandchildren and over 30 great-grandchildren; she was widely known around the community as simply “Grandma Moses.”

Grandma Moses Was 100% Self Taught

Grandma Moses was one of those rare artists that were indeed 100% self-taught. She never had the opportunity to go to school, much less to attend any art school. Her family was just too poor, and she had to work on the farm.

This lack of education did not stop her from enjoying art. As a young wife and mother, she used house paint to decorate her house with art scenes. She started the quilt as a form of hobby and art. With her quilting, she would use recycled or previously used materials.

Painting Was Her Childhood Dream

Even though Grandma Moses started to paint much later in life, the reality was that art and painting were something she was interested in from the time of being a young child. Life did not allow her to pursue a career in painting as she was always working on the family farm.

Grandma Moses talks about how her father would get her and her brothers some white paper sheets to draw pictures and how much she enjoyed the drawing.

Grandma Moses Painted Scenes Of Rural Life

Grandma Moses painted rural New England life as it once was. She would omit such things of modern life as a tractor or even telephone poles.

Her style is primitive, but as she became more advanced, she created more complicated real-life compositions.

Grandma Moses Was A Prolific Painter

Grandma Moses was a prolific painter. For the three decades of her life, she was a professional artist who created more than 1,500 canvases of artwork. That means that she was painting about 50 paintings per year or almost a painting every week.

At first, her paintings would sell for 3 to 5 dollars, depending on the size. But as her fame increased, many of her works of art began to sell for $8,000 to $10,000. She had one painting that in 2016 sold for a record U.S. $1.2 million.

I love Grandma Moses because I believe that she teaches us a lot. She shows us that anyone can start painting at any age – it is never too late to begin to paint.

Grandma Moses Stamps in 1969
Grandma Moses Stamps in 1969

Grandma Moses also shows us the power of believing in yourself and your style of artwork. She had a primitive technique that resonated with her audience. She was even featured on Time Magazine and had a U.S. postage stamp printed with her painting during her lifetime.

Great painters and artists like Granda Moses inspire me.

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Anita Louise Hummel

Hi, I am Anita Louise Hummel. I am an artist and a blogger. I paint mainly oil paints. I love to paint women, animals (mainly dogs and cats), and abstracts. I use a lot of gold and silver leaf in my paintings. I also love to blog about anything to do with art, business, Procreate, and all the wonderful artists that inspire me.

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Grandma Moses Sold Her First Painting At Age 79 - And Other Facts