Raphael Soyer papers, 1933-1989

Soyer, Raphael, b. 1899 d. 1987
Painter, Lithographer
Active in New York, N.Y.

The papers of Raphael Soyer in the Archives of American Art were digitized in 2009. The bulk of the papers have been scanned and total 6,074 images.

Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.


Collection size: 3.9 linear ft.

Collection Summary: The papers of realist painter Raphael Soyer date from 1933 to 1989 and measure 3.9 linear feet. Soyer's papers document his career as a painter, printmaker, and writer. Found within the papers are scattered biographical materials, including several transcripts of interviews with Soyer; extensive personal and professional correspondence; writings and notes by Soyer and others; scattered legal and financial records; exhibition materials, clippings and other printed material; and photographs of Soyer in his studio, with artists and friends, and at art events. Also found are one sketch and a facsimile of Soyer's 1968 sketchbook produced by Forum Gallery.

Biographical/Historical Note: Raphael Soyer (1899-1987) was a painter and printmaker in New York, N.Y. Born in Tombov (or Borisoglebsk), Russia, Soyer was one of six siblings, including twin Moses, and brothers Isaac and Israel, who were encouraged in their art work by their father, a teacher of Hebrew literature. Raphael Soyer studied drawing and painting at the Cooper Union, at the National Academy of Design, ca. 1919, and with Guy Pene Du Bois at the Art Students League. His first one-man show was at the Daniel Gallery in 1929. He became noted for his prints and paintings of social realism during the Depression, and taught at the Art Students League, The New School, and at the National Academy of Design.

Portions of the collection were donated by Raphael Soyer between 1961 and 1980. Additional materials were donated in 1991 and 1993 by his widow, Rebecca, and his grandson, Joseph Leiber, on behalf of the entire Soyer family.

In 1994, the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation provided funding that allowed the collection to be microfilmed.
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection in 2009 was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

How to Use this Collection

  • Read the Finding Aid for this digitized collection
  • The bulk of this collection has been digitized and is available online via AAA's website. Materials which have not been scanned include photographs of works of art, select draft writings by Soyer, writings by others on unrelated topics, and certain routine financial documents and printed material. Exhibition catalogs have had their covers and relevant pages scanned.
    Loaned material: microfilm reel N68-1 is available at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.
  • Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
  • For more information on using the Archives’ resources, see the FAQ or Ask Us.

Also in the Archives

Related Materials

In 1968, Royer loaned materials for microfilming (reel N68-1), including a small amount of correspondence and three sketchbooks,. These papers were returned to Raphael Soyer after microfilming and were not included in subsequent donations.
Also found at the Archives of American Art are several collections related to Raphael Soyer: Esther Reier letter from Raphael Soyer, 1978 May 29; Raphael Soyer's Artist Statement from 1947; a Raphael Soyer lecture from 1960; the papers of his twin brother, Moses Soyer; Brooklyn Museum interviews of artists, circa 1965-1968 (includes an interview of Soyer); and the Karl E. Fortess taped interviews with artists, 1963-1985, which also includes an interview with Raphael Soyer. The Archives of American Art's Oral History collection has an interview of Raphael Soyer dated May 13-June 1, 1981 conducted by Milton Brown.
Additional Raphael Soyer papers, 1949-1954, are available at Cornell University.