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Maureen Stapleton

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Maureen Stapleton

ca. 1946
15 3/4 x 11 3/4 in. (40 x 29.8 cm)

Raphael Soyer
United States (Borisoglebsk (Tamblov Oblast), Russia, 1899 - 1987, New York, NY)

Object Type: Painting
Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Solomon K. Gross
Accession Number: 1979.94
Link to this object
Location: Not currently on view

Raphael Soyer was a prolific realist painter and printmaker whose career spanned most of the 20th century. In 1912 he immigrated to New York from Russia with his family, and the city became his muse.

The actress Maureen Stapleton (1925-2006) was an artist’s model before her film career took off. In her memoirs she wrote that she “worked for Reggie [Marsh] for quite a while. He passed me off to his friend, Raphael Soyer….I was zaftig, and that’s what those guys wanted: a big, blubbery young dame.”

[Forman Gallery, Summer 2015]

Artist's signature, lower right: Raphael Soyer

Early on in Marjorie Searl's career at MAG, in the early 1990s, she was intrigued by this painting and wondered how Stapleton ended up modeling for Raphael Soyer. She went so far as to try to track down her agent and leave a message for her asking that question. One day, she was sitting at her desk in the education department, and the phone rang. On the other end of the line was - Maureen Stapleton! She herself was calling to answer the question. They talked for a while, and she told the story of leaving Troy, NY, determined to become an actress. As she described, she went to New York and it took a while to convince people of her talent. To support herself, she modeled for artists such as Raphael Soyer.

She really was a genuine, down-to-earth person on the phone, just the kind of person that she always seemed to portray in her roles. And now you know the rest of the story - about Maureen Stapleton.

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