She worked as a live in housekeeper from the age of 12 to 27. One of the families that she worked for who noticed her appreciation for their prints made by Currier and Ives, supplied her with art materials to create drawings. At the age of 27 when she met Thomas Salmon Moses who worked on the same farm as a “hired man”. They were married and settled near Staunton Virginia and for the next 20 years or so they lived and worked on four separate local farms. She had a total of 10 children, only 5 of which survived infancy. Thomas Moses died in 1927 of a heart attack, after which her son Forrest helped her operate the farm. She retired and moved to a daughter’s home in 1936.
Even as a young wife and mother, Moses had been creative in her home by, for example, using house paint to decorate a fireboard in 1918. Moses made embroidered pictures of yarn for friends and family beginning in 1932. When Moses complained that arthritis made it hard for her to hold a needle, her sister Celestia suggested she paint instead. In this casual manner, the career of Grandma Moses began. Soon Moses had more paintings than she could realistically make use of.
“The rags-to-riches saga of the elderly painter captured the American imagination. Facing the harsh realities of the Cold-War era, the public took heart in a real-life tale that seemed to prove the old adage, “it’s never too late.” The media seemingly never tired of repeating Moses’ fairy-tale story. In 1953, she was featured on the cover of Time Magazine; in 1960, Life sent noted photographer Cornell Capa to do a cover story on the artist’s 100th birthday. That birthday–declared “Grandma Moses Day” by New York’s governor, Nelson Rockefeller–was celebrated almost like a holiday in the nation’s press. The fanfare was repeated the following year, when Moses turned 101. Everyone rejoiced at the artist’s longevity. Grandma Moses passed away several months after her 101st birthday, on December 13, 1961. Her death was front page news all over America and throughout much of Europe.” http://www.gseart.com/Artists-Gallery/Moses-Anna-Mary-Robertson-Grandma/Moses-Anna-Mary-Robertson-Grandma-Biography.php
Having begun painting in earnest at the age of 78, she is often cited as an example of an individual successfully beginning a career in the arts at an advanced age. Her works have been shown and sold in the United States and abroad and have been marketed on greeting cards and other merchandise. Moses’ paintings are among the collections of many museums. The Sugaring Off was sold for US$1.2 million in 2006.
1956 Painting specially commissioned by President Eisenhower’s Cabinet is given to him on third anniversary of his inauguration. Publication of set of four color reproductions, “The Four Seasons” (Port Chester, New York: Donald Art Company.
1960 Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller proclaims artist’s 100th birthday “Grandma Moses Day” in New York State.