Joseph Decker was born in 1853 and came to the U.S. in 1867. He apprenticed with a house painter before going to the National Academy of Design, and later studying in Munich. Decker was a still-life specialist, focused particularly on fruit. His work falls into two distinct categories; the 1880s, when his work was hard-edged, almost photo-realistic, sometimes painting an entire canvas of dense fruit trees. These works were often dramatically cropped, similar to work of Alfred Stieglitz. The 1890s brought an abrupt change in style. His painting became much more soft-focused in a classical composition. Criticism of his earlier work, which was though to be harsh, surreal and detached, could be due to this dramatic difference in his work. Unfortunately, Decker fell on financial troubles and by 1924, was listed as a charity patient in the Brooklyn Hospital. His death certificate listed his occupation as "laborer". Decker's collection of work was sold to his major patron Thomas B. Clarke.