Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
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 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 papers, 1933-1989. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
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.
Location of Originals:
Reel N68-1, sketchbooks only: Originals returned to lender, Raphael Soyer, after microfilming.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001