As Michael David Zellman put it, “Anna Mary Robertson Moses, or Grandma Moses, was the quintessential American folk artist. She was also the embodiment of the American success story.” A resident of upstate New York, Moses lived on farms her entire life, raising five children. After her husband died, she remained on the farm, which one of her son’s continued to operate. When she grew too old to work on the farm, she took up painting as a pastime because it was easier than needlework on her arthritic hands. Her work was discovered by an art collector in 1938 while on display in a local drugstore window and quickly developed a nationwide following and the nickname “Grandma Moses.” Her charming scenes typically featured rural landscapes with small figures engaged in various activities, some based on childhood memories, and had a nostalgic appeal to the American public. Moses worked quickly, producing an estimated 1,600 paintings up until a few months before her death at the age of 101. Today her works are in numerous museums including the Bennington College Museum, Vermont; the Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.; and the White House.
A typed label that accompanies the photograph, attached to the back of the frame, provides information about the photographer:
One-of-a-kind photograph of Grandma Moses posed in private sitting for Rudolph Rissland, amateur photographer who was a professional musician playing for Walter Damrosch.
Rudolph Rissland was an American violinist, born in Germany. He played in the New York Symphony Orchestra under conductor Walter Damrosch, which was later merged into the New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra. After retiring he apparently moved to the upstate New York town of Glen Falls, where he died at age 92.
Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning and wear. Drymounted as issued to stiff card backing, within printed French mat. Minor dampstain to lower left portion of mat, unobtrusive. Frame good, though rudimentary, with usual wear and minor separations at miters.
“Rudolph Rissland.” New York Times. 21 September 1960. Online at: http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive/pdf?res=F50B1EFD385916738DDDA80A94D1405B808AF1D3 (10 January 2012).
Zellman, Michael David, dir. American Art Analog. Vol. 2. Chelsea House: New York, 1986. p. 576.