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Take a look at Joseph Decker’s “Green Plums.” What do you see? Described as Decker’s “hard” style, we notice crisp edges, a close-up, cropped view, harsh lighting, strong colors, and an absence of soft shadows. The paint is applied in a practiced, easy fashion.

Decker was born in Württemberg, Germany in 1853, emigrating with his family to America at the age of 14. He was first apprenticed to a Brooklyn house painter, then worked as a sign painter. He began painting still lifes in the mid 1880s, and focused on this linear method of depicting edible subjects.

Joseph Decker, “Green Plums,” c. 1885, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon


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