Alice Neel (January 28, 1900 – October 13, 1984) was an American visual artist, who was well known for oil painting and for her portraits notable for their expressionistic use of line and color, and emotional intensity. She was also a pioneer among women artists. A painter of people, landscape and still life, Neel was never fashionable or in step with avant-garde movements. In 1918, after graduating High School, she took the Civil Service exam and got a high-paying clerical position in order to help support her parents. After three years of work, taking art classes by night in Philadelphia, Neel enrolled in the Fine Art program at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women (now Moore College of Art) in 1921, graduating in 1925.
Neel married Cuban painter Carlos Enríquez and moved to Havana to live with his family. In Havana, amongst the burgeoning Cuban avant-garde, Neel developed the foundations of her lifelong political consciousness. Family trauma resulting in Neel's suicide attempt put her in the suicide ward of the Philadelphia General Hospital. In 1931 Neel was released from the sanatorium and eventually returned to New York. Neel was called "one of the greatest portrait artists of the 20th century" by Barry Walker, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, which organized a retrospective of her work in 2010.