It was in these years following her rise to fame that Moses began painting larger, more ambitious canvases, one of them being the present Checkered House. Otto Kallir writes that the building after which the canvas is titled is a landmark near Cambridge, New York, which Moses had often seen in her youth. Moses remembered, “The Checkered House is old... It was the Headquarters of General Baum in the revolution war, and afterwards he used it as a Hospital, then it was a stopping place for the stage, where they changed horses every two miles, oh we traveled fast in those days” (Otto Kallir, Grandma Moses, New York, 1973, p. 68).
In Checkered House, Moses depicts a sweeping landscape buzzing with activity. The figures in the foreground appear to be racing to and from their destinations in carriages and on horseback, with the exception of the two soldiers standing to the center right. The checkered house emerges as the main focal point of the picture, inviting viewers into the bustling country scene. In the background Moses depicts a combination of sweeping mountains, fields and houses, all of which culminate in an expansive depiction of the New York countryside.
A self-taught artist, Moses’ use of depth and perspective in Checkered House allowed her to depict an accomplished country living scene from the unique perspective of her childhood memories. Otto Kallir writes that while Moses painted several versions of Checkered House, she never made an exact copy, putting her individualistic artist touch on each work. “Looking at two variations of the Checkered House, I once asked her how she managed to represent the same motif in a fresh form. She said that she visualized the picture she was about to paint as though framed in her window and that she had only to imagine she was looking out on the scene either from the right or from the left and that accordingly all parts of a composition would shift into place” (Ibid, p. 68).
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