Raphael Soyer

Bowery Nocturne
1933

Not on view

Date
1933

Classification
Prints

Medium
Lithograph

Dimensions
Sheet (Irregular): 15 3/16 × 21 3/8in. (38.6 × 54.3 cm) Image: 12 3/4 × 17 7/8in. (32.4 × 45.4 cm)

Accession number
96.68.253

Edition
Ed. 25

Publication
Printed by George C. Miller

Credit line
Purchase, with funds from The Lauder Foundation, Leonard and Evelyn Lauder Fund

Rights and reproductions
© 1987, Raphael Soyer Estate

Raphael Soyer considered Bowery Nocturne, along with the companion image The Mission, among his most important lithographs (both were preparatory studies for paintings). The work pictures several men gathered at a restaurant. The lettering on the background sign derives from a photograph that artist Ben Shahn took and gave to Soyer, but no unified narrative is implied. While Soyer is often categorized among the Social Realists of the 1920s and 1930s, here he is interested in the men as individuals, foregoing a direct commentary on the social concerns of the Great Depression. The denizens of Bowery Nocturne may be ordinary and nameless, but they are distinguished from one another by their clothing, hats, physiognomies, actions, and expressions. Soyer’s careful differentiation of each man encourages the viewer’s attentiveness and imagination.


Raphael Soyer
50 works

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