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Moses Soyer papers, circa 1905-1974

Soyer, Moses, 1899-1974

Lithographer, Painter

The papers of Moses Soyer in the Archives of American Art were digitized in 2009. The bulk of the papers have been scanned, and total 5,741 images.

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

Collection Information

Size: 3.8 Linear feet

Summary: The papers of realist painter Moses Soyer date from circa 1905 to 1974 and measure 3.8 linear feet. Within the papers are scattered biographical materials, general correspondence with friends, artists, galleries, art organizations, and others, as well as correspondence with his family, including his son David, writings and notes by Soyer and others, exhibition materials, news clippings, and other printed material, numerous photographs of Soyer, his family, fellow artists, friends and his artwork. Also found are book illustrations and loose sketches by Soyer.
Biographical materials include awards, business documents such as records for the loan of his artwork, passports, his marriage certificate, and other official documents. Soyer's 1966 membership to the National Institute of Arts and Letters and several awards from the National Academy of Design are found here as well. Correspondence is with friends and artists such as Leonard Baskin, Isabel Bishop, Alex Dobkin, Philip Evergood, Chaim Gross, and his brother Raphael Soyer, as well as with students, galleries, art organizations, museums, universities, and others. Also found is correspondence with his son David and his grandchildren that include many letters illustrated by Soyer.
Writings and notes include Soyer's draft writings for his book Painting the Human Figure, autobiographical essays, desk diaries, and miscellaneous writings and notes. There are also writings by Ida and David Soyer, artist Philip Evergood, and others. Printed material consists of exhibition catalogs and announcements, news clippings about Soyer's career and realist painting, and scattered material such as newsletters, programs, and magazines.
The papers contain numerous photographs of Soyer, including photographs of him working in his studio, with models, with family, and with fellow artists such as David Burliuk, Nicolai Cikovsky, Chaim Gross, Raphael Soyer, and many others. Additional photographs are of Soyer's family, fellow artists, friends, events, and his artwork. Among the photographers is Arnold Newman. Original artwork includes book illustrations for First Book of Ballet and loose sketches by Soyer.

Biographical/Historical Note

Moses Soyer (1899-1974) and his twin brother Raphael (1899-1987) were born on December 25, 1899, in the Russian town Borisoglebsk. Their father Abraham was a scholar and Hebrew teacher who encouraged all of his children to sketch and paint. After the family was deported from Russia, they settled in the Bronx, New York, in 1912. Moses and Raphael briefly attended school, but at 16 they began working various jobs to help support their family. They also began taking free art classes at Cooper Union and for a brief time at the National Academy of Design. Moses then enrolled at the Educational Alliance Art School where he met close friend Chaim Gross. He participated in his first exhibition in 1923 and also taught classes at the Education Alliance Art School until 1926 when he received a traveling scholarship to Europe.


Moses Soyer first lent the Archives of American Art material for microfilming in 1965. Some of these papers, along with additional material, were donated by Soyer between 1966 and 1969. His son, David Soyer, gave more material in 1974 and 1975.

Related Materials

Language Note

The collection is in English, Russian, and Hebrew English; Russian; Hebrew


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