John Decker
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JOHN DECKER...(1895-1947)

Painter, caricaturist, and sculptor.

Born in Germany, as Leopold von der Decken. As a teenager, Decker painted scenery for the London theatre circuit, working with renowned W. T. Hemsley. He did some time as a political prisoner on the Isle of Man during World War I. After immigrating to America in 1922, he worked as a caricaturist for the New York Evening World in New York. In 1928 Decker left New York for Hollywood, where he rubbed shoulders with some of the biggest names of his era, including his great friends John Barrymore, W. C. Fields, Errol Flynn, Lionel Barrymore, and author Gene Fowler. His paintings graced museum walls alongside many of the old Master painters, including Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Daumier, among others. His work was exhibited in Rome, New York, Hollywood, and Los Angeles, and were attended by the Hollywood elite and musical giants such as Sergei Rachmaninoff and Igor Stravinski. His drawings appeared in countless publications from coast to coast during the 1920s through the 1940s. He created paintings for films and movie sets. Stories on Decker, his art, his humor, and his exhibitions appeared in all the newspapers, in Esquire magazine, Time, Newsweek, and Look, among others. The Hollywood elite sought out Decker to have their portraits painted. He was commissioned to do paintings of the Marx brothers, Errol Flynn, Greta Garbo, Mickey Rooney, John Barrymore, W. C. Fields, Gene Fowler, Ben Hecht, Charlie Chaplin (he bought twelve Decker portraits!), Lorraine Mowbray, Fanny Brice, and Charlie McCarthy, as well as many others. Decker participated in the Fourth Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary American Paintings at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, in 1944. The best paintings by American artists were displayed at the exhibition. Decker won the highest award bestowed at the exhibition--the "John Barton Payne Medal."

Biography courtesy of Stephen C. Jordan, Esq., author of "Bohemian Rogue: The Life of Hollywood Artist John Decker."