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Moses Soyer (1899-1974) was a native of Russia who immigrated to the United States in 1912. First residing in Philadelphia, he later moved to New York City. Moses; his twin brother, Raphael, and their younger brother, Isaac, all became painters.

From 1916 to 1920, Moses Soyer studied at Cooper Union, the National Academy of Design and the Ferrer Art School. His teachers included Robert Henri and George Bellows, both important figures in the Ashcan School, a group of artists who pioneered American urban realism.

Soyer became a leading artist in the Fourteenth Street Group, a group of urban realists. Led by Kenneth Hayes Miller, they were greatly influenced by the Ashcan painters. A devoted realist, Soyer often stated, “My message is people.”

The subject of Girl in Green Sweater is a young girl lost in a world of private thoughts. True to his realist ideology, Soyer’s portrait depicts the girl with a stark honesty. His goal was not to produce a flattering likeness, but to probe beneath the surface of the model’s outward appearance to reveal a sense of the person within.