Seamstress I (black and white)

Raphael Soyer

Raphael Soyer (12/25/1899-1987) was born  in Tambov, Russia.  He moved to the United States when he was thirteen years old.  His father was a large influence on Soyer:  the two of them often drew together on Sundays.  The young Soyer was intrigued that he could make a flat surface have the illusion of depth.  He completed his first etching in 1917.  Soyer studied at the Art Students League with Guy Pene du Bois, and at Cooper Union (1914-17) and the National Academy of Design (1918-1922).  He taught at the Art Students League, the American Art School (NYC), the New School for Social Research, and the National Academy of Design.  He produced realistic depictions of daily life, and painted a WPA mural at the United States Post Office in Philadelphia.  His style changed over the years, from a flat style to a more liberated one that echoed the work of Edgar Degas.  During the Depression, many of his works were executed in a Social Realist style and frequently depicted street vagrants. Later, his primary subjects were women working or posing in his studio.  He also published several books, including "A Painter's Pilgrimmage" in 1962 and "Diary of an Artist" in 1977.  Retrospectives of his work were held in 1967 at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and in 1982 at the Hirshhorn Museum.

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