Raphael Soyer papers, 1933-1989
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.
Scope and Contents
The papers of realist painter Raphael Soyer date from 1933 to 1989 and measure 3.9 linear feet. They document Soyer's 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 materials include award certificates, including a 1975 certificate from the National Academy of Design, lists of artwork by Soyer, and several transcripts of interviews with Raphael Soyer in which he discusses topics such as his career as an artist, artists in New York City, and the inspiration for his artwork.
Personal and professional correspondence is with numerous artists, writers, art historians, curators, gallery owners, arts organizations, museums, and universities. Correspondents include Lambro Ahlas, Rudolf Baranik, George Biddle, John Bratby, David Burliuk, Peter De Francia, Lloyd Goodrich, Joseph Hirsch, Joseph Hirshhorn, Edward Hopper, Joe Lasker, Henry Varnum Poor, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and many others. Additional correspondence is addressed to Reality magazine, for which Soyer was an editor.
Writings and notes by Soyer include several drafts and notes for his four published books A Painter's Pilgrimage (1962), Homage to Thomas Eakins (1966), Self-Revealment: a Memoir (1969), and Diary of an Artist (1977). Also by Soyer are draft essays, lectures, and articles - many about social realism. Writings by others include essays and articles by artists and art scholars sent to Soyer for review.
Scattered legal and financial records include bank statements, receipts, leases, and documents related to the publishing of his books. Printed material consists of exhibition catalogs and announcements, clippings, and other published items.
Photographs depict Soyer in his studio, with other artists and friends such as Chaim Gross, Edward Hopper, and Jose De Creeft, and at art events, and include a few photographs of his artwork. Also found are one pencil sketch and a facsimile of Soyer's 1968 sketchbook produced by Forum Gallery.
Raphael Soyer donated portions of the collection between 1961 and 1980. He also loaned materials for microfilming in 1968. His widow, Rebecca, and his grandson, Joseph Leiber, on behalf of the entire Soyer family, donated additional materials in 1991 and 1993.
The Archives of American Art also holds material lent for microfilming (N68-1) including a small amount of correspondence and three sketchbooks. Lent materials were returned to the lender and are not described in the collection container inventory.
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.
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
The collection was typically microfilmed in the order in which was received on reels N68-1, 867-868, 1927-1928, and 4888-4890. Items on reel N68-1 were first lent for microfilming in 1968 and some of this material was subsequently donated. The Lucius N. Littauer Foundation provided funding for the later microfilming. The entire collection was merged, fully processed, arranged, and described by Erin Corley in 2007, and digitized in 2009 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
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