Raphael Soyer (December 25, 1899 – November 4, 1987) was a Russian-born American painter, draftsman, and printmaker. He is identified as a Social Realist because of his interest in men and women viewed in contemporary settings which included the streets, subways, salons and artists' studios of New York City. He also wrote several books on his life and art. He is one of three brothers, all of whom achieved acclaim in art. (I have included a bit about the artist at the end of the listing).
Size: 19 1/4" by 16 1/2".
Signed: In the plate.
Condition: Very Good.
Raphael Soyer and his identical twin brother, Moses, were born in Borisoglebsk, Tambov, a southern province of Russia in 1899. Their father, Abraham Soyer, a Hebrew scholar, writer and teacher, raised his six children in an intellectual environment in which much emphasis was placed on academic and artistic pursuits. Due to Russian oppression, the Soyer family was forced to emigrate in 1912 to the United States, where they ultimately settled in the Bronx.
Raphael pursued his art education at the free schools of the Cooper Union where he met Chaim Gross, who became a lifelong friend from that time. He continued his studies at the National Academy of Design and, subsequently, at the Art Students League of New York. While there, he studied with Guy Pene du Bois and Boardman Robinson, taking up the gritty urban subjects of the Ashcan school. After his formal education ended, Soyer became associated with the Fourteenth Street School of painters that included Reginald Marsh, Isabel Bishop, Kenneth Hayes Miller, Peggy Bacon and, his teacher, Guy Pene du Bois. Soyer persistently investigated a number of themes—female nudes, portraits of friends and family, New York and, especially, its people—in his paintings, drawings, watercolors and prints. He was adamant in his belief in representational art and strongly opposed the dominant force of abstract art during the late 1940s and early 1950s. Defending his position, he stated: "I choose to be a realist and a humanist in art." He was an artist of the Great Depression.
Beginning in the early 1930s, he showed regularly in the large annual and biennial American exhibitions of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Carnegie Institute, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the National Academy of Design, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He had a series of solo exhibitions in New York galleries, and also worked in the WPA Federal Arts Project in the 1930s.
Soyer's teaching career began at the John Reed Club, New York, in 1930 and included stints at the Art Students League, the New School for Social Research and the National Academy. His work is in numerous museums including the Museum of Modern Art; The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University; The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.; The New York Public Library, New York; Tel Aviv Museum, Israel; Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy and Los Angeles County Museum, California.