A Finding Aid to the Moses Soyer Papers,
circa 1905-1974
, in the Archives of American Art
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.soyemose
Creators:
Soyer, Moses, 1899-1974
Dates:
circa 1905-1974
Languages:
Multiple languages
The collection is in English, Russian, and Hebrew
English; Russian; Hebrew
Physical Description:
3.8 Linear feet
Repository:
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.

Scope and Content Note
Scope and Content Note
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.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged into 6 series:
  • Series 1: Biographical Material, 1925-1974 (Box 1, 5, OV 6; 12 folders)
  • Series 2: Correspondence, 1928-1974 (Box 1-2, 5; 1.0 linear foot)
  • Series 3: Writings & Notes, circa 1930s-1968, undated (Box 2; 0.6 linear feet)
  • Series 4: Printed Material, 1926-1974 (Box 2-3, 5, OV 6; 0.8 linear feet)
  • Series 5: Photographs, circa 1905-1974 (Box 3-5, OV 6; 1.1 linear foot)
  • Series 6: Artwork, circa 1940s-1960s (Box 4-5; 0.2 linear feet)

Biographical Note
Biographical 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.
Before leaving for Europe, Soyer married Ida, a former student and dancer. They spent most of their time during the next two years in France. Their son David was born in 1928. Shortly after his birth they returned to the New York City where Moses found greater inspiration for his social-realist paintings. During the Depression, he was commissioned to do artwork for the WPA and for the Federal Arts Project, depicting people doing everyday tasks. During this time Soyer also taught classes at the Contemporary Art School and the New School for Social Research.
Throughout the 1940s and 1950s Soyer continued with this subject matter, even as the abstract art movement became more prominent. Speaking out against abstract art as well as regionalism, he exhibited his work constantly, becoming a significant figure in the social realist movement. His work was represented by the American Contemporary Art (ACA) Gallery beginning in 1944, and he was also a member of several art organizations, including the Artists Equity Association. He was elected to the National Academy of Design in 1963 and to the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1966. Soyer's later work focused on more sensitive portrayals of the female figure, especially dancers. He also painted portraits, including many of his artist friends such as Chaim Gross, Joseph Stella, and David Burliuk. He illustrated several books, including the First Book of Ballet and wrote Painting the Human Figure, which was published in 1964. Soyer continued to paint until his death in 1974.

Administration
Alternative Forms Available
The papers of Moses Soyer in the Archives of American Art were digitized in
2009
, and total
5741
images.
Materials not scanned include some printed materials, such as Hebrew and Russian newsclippings, entire magazines, and printed reproductions of artwork. Photographs of artwork were not scanned, nor photographs of David Soyer's family.
Material lent for microfilming is available on 35mm microfilm reel D176 at the Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.
Processing Information
The collection was microfilmed in the order in which it was received on reels D283, D359, and 1198-1203. The entire collection was merged, fully processed, arranged, and described by Erin Corley in 2007 and scanned in 2009 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Separated Materials
The Archives of American Art also holds material lent for microfilming (reel D176), the majority of which was later donated. Loaned materials not donated at a later date are not described in the container listing of this finding aid.
Author
Erin Corley
Sponsor
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Provenance
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.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Moses Soyer papers, circa 1905-1974. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Restrictions on Access
Use of the original papers requires an appointment.
Ownership and Literary Rights
The Moses Soyer papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.

Related Material
Also found at the Archives of American Art are the Abe Lerner papers concerning the book Moses Soyer, 1961-1970, a Moses Soyer letter to Herbert S. Schimmel, and a Moses Soyer letter and two photographs, donated by Marilyn Mark. Also available at the Archives are the papers of Raphael Soyer, Moses Soyer's twin brother.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Works of art Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painters -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painting, American Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sketches Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Artists' studios -- New York (State) -- New York -- Photographs Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Social realism -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Baskin, Leonard, 1922-2000 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Newman, Arnold, 1918-2006 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Soyer, Raphael, 1899-1987 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Gross, Chaim, 1904-1991 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Soyer, David, 1928- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Soyer, Ida Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Burliuk, David, 1882-1967 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Cikovsky, Nicolai, 1894- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Dobkin, Alexander, 1908- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Bishop, Isabel, 1902-1988 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Evergood, Philip, 1901-1973 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001
https://www.aaa.si.edu/services/questions
https://www.aaa.si.edu/