While living on her farm in upstate New York, “Grandma” Moses devoted her spare time to painting. She gave her works to family and friends and exhibited them at regional fairs alongside her jams and preserves. In the Spring of 1938, collector Louis Caldor noticed her works in the window of a local drugstore; Caldor returned to New York City determined to introduce Moses to the art world. After two years of discouragement, Caldor captured the attention of renowned dealer Otto Kallir. Kallir later recalled one painting in particular that sparked his interest: "It was a sugaring-off scene...But what struck me...was the way the artist handled the landscape...Though she had never heard of any rules of perspective, Mrs. Moses had achieved an impression of depth [with color]...creating a compelling truth and closeness to nature." (as quoted in K.A. Marling, Designs on the Heart: The Homemade Art of Grandma Moses, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2006, pp. 126-27). Kallir wanted to see more.
In 1940, at the age of 80, Moses arrived in New York City for her first exhibition, "What a Farm Wife Painted," at Kallir's Galerie St. Etienne. At the time, her work was seen as a welcome respite to the reductive Modernist art of the day. Her paintings reflected the American values and chronicled holidays and traditions cherished by American families. It was at this debut show that a writer for the New York Daily Mirror declared her to be "more than a great American artist. She's a great American housewife." Though jarring today, the writer's comment underscored an important element of her art. "Moses was proud of her women's work in general, aware that on the farm survival depended on a true division of labor between the sexes. As a girl she had learned the skills of female adulthood, and as a grown woman she practiced them with pride and proficiency. To the Gimbels [department store's annual Thanksgiving] forum she brought some of her prize-winning preserves and her home-baked bread. When called upon to talk, these were the items that dominated her remarks--not the paintings, which were, after all, just a hobby" (Designs on the Heart: The Homemade Art of Grandma Moses, p. 136).
This piece bears the artist’s original authentication label, which states that Near Dorset is Moses work number 1337.