Joseph Decker (1853–1924), Still Life with Crab Apples and Grapes, 1888, oil on canvas, John Wilmerding CollectionDuring his thirty-year career, Decker created landscapes, genre scenes, and a few portraits, but his most numerous subjects (more than half his total works) and those for which he is now best known are still lifes. Still Life with Crab Apples and Grapes comes from the first half of Decker’s career, when his style was crisp and hard-edged and his colors were forceful. Each spherical shape of apple or grape shines, spotlighted against a dark background. While the grapes he depicts are robust, virtually perfect specimens of cultivated fruit, the crab apples are varicolored, poked, and pockmarked, and one is even roughly cut open. Together these objects are arrayed across an indeterminate reflective surface, creating a composition of syncopated rhythm.
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