"Moses Soyer was born in Borisglebsk, Russia on December 25, 1899. His father was a professor of Hebrew literature, and Soyer grew up in a liberal and artistic household. The Soyers were deported in 1913 by the Czarist Russians, and they settled in New York City. After studying with his twin brother, Raphael, at two schools that they found both rigid and stifling, Moses entered the uncoventional Ferrer Art School in Spanish Harlem. It was there that he met Robert Henri and was deeply influenced by the Ashcan School's focus on the hard life of simple people. In 1926 Soyer was given a one-man show and was also awarded a traveling art scholarship which enabled him to go to Europe. Soyer returned to New York and began painting furiously. Prosperity was just beginning to shine on Soyer when the Great Depression hit, forcing him to survive on WPA commissions earned for decorating public buildings. After World War II, American art underwent a revolution in style. Abstract Expressionism and Action Painting were favored over representational styles like Soyer's. He remained true to his own style of realism of the poor of New York, and of portraits of friends. Although his work has been submerged by interest in other art movements, he has always enjoyed a small but loyal group of collectors and is widely considered 'unquestionably one of the important figurative painters of this century.'" -Springfield Museum of Art

This quickly done portrait in oil has a classic composition and pose, but with modernist touches such as the truncated head, planar treatment of the figure, and echoed lines; the signature, bold and all alone in the upper right corner, repeatedly catches the eye and visually balaces the protrait; it seems to suspend the figure like a puppeteer and serve as its source.

Detail (including part of frame):

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