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American Paintings - before 1950

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Portrait of a Girl (Cynthia Brown)

20th century
41 cm x 30 cm (16 1/8 in. x 11 13/16 in.)

Raphael Soyer (Borisoglebsk, Russia, 1899 - 1987, New York, New York) Primary

Object Type: painting
Artist Nationality: North America, American
Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Michener Acquisitions Fund, 1969
               Accession Number:                P1969.15.2             
Object Description: A young girl, whose hollow eyes and cheeks belie her age, clasps her hands tightly in her lap. Black hair, dress, chair, floor and shadows fuse together into a flat bodily form that serves to highlight the exactness of distinct facial features. Loose brushwork and complex shading and blending, especially in shadows and backdrop, create a simple, unified statement about the nature and effects of hardship. Like the painting of his brother Moses, Raphael Soyer’s work shows the influences of Edgar Degas and of American Realists like Thomas Eakins. Soyer once recalled: “I tried to paint my portraits in the manner of Eakins, completely without ingratiation, starkly honest.” Soyer’s dark palette and exaggerated realism yield contemplative portraits that hint of sadness or loneliness, a tone found in many of his best-known works from the 1930s and 40s

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