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I love that Laura Ingalls Wilder published her first book at age 65. Anna Mary Robertson was another American woman who gained fame late in life. She was well-known when I was a child and I was an admirer of her work. Anna Mary Robertson began a new career at age 76. Anna was born before the first shots of the Civil War and lived into the presidency of John F. Kennedy. At age 12, she left home to be a full-time maid. Fifteen years later she married Thomas Salmon Moses, a farm hand who worked on the same farm. Thomas and Anna used their savings to begin farming for themselves, first in Virginia and later in their home state of New York.

Thomas died when Anna was 67 years old. She and a son continued to operate the family farm in Eagle Bridge. Anna spent her time doing farm chores and embroidering pictures with wool yarn. After a few years, her arthritis got so bad that she could do neither.

Unwilling to be idle, Anna began to paint in oil. She chose traditional country life in New England as the subject of her paintings. She wanted her art to show others how she and those around her once lived. This was very much the same purpose that Laura Ingalls Wilder had for her books.

Two years after Anna began painting, an art collector saw samples of her work in a drug store in Hoosick Falls, where they were priced at $3.00 to $5.00 each. The collector bought them all, before driving to her home where he bought ten more. The following year Anna’s paintings went on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

A few years after her 1939 art show, people were buying Christmas cards and fabrics printed with her work. Ten years later she was the guest of President and Mrs. Harry Truman. Her paintings were loved not only in America, but also in Europe. Anna Mary Robertson Moses became known to the world as Grandma Moses. She continued to paint until her 101st birthday in 1961. She produced more than 1,000 paintings, including 25 which she painted after she reached 100 years old. At the time of her death, her large paintings sold for $8,000 to $10,000 each. They hung in museums in the United States and in Paris and Vienna. Grandma Moses’ second career lasted 25 and she didn’t begin it until she was 76!

You shall stand up in the presence of the gray-headed
and honor elders,
and you shall fear your God;
I am the Lord.
Leviticus 19:32

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One comment

  1. Thank you for sharing this inspiring story. I live not too far from Grandma Moses country, and of course I had heard of her. But I guess I missed the part about her career starting at age 76. Beautiful.

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