Joseph Decker, whose work ranks among the finest American still lifes of the late nineteenth century, captured the simplest objects with sincerity and profoundness.
An enigmatic artist who studied in Munich during the 1870s, Decker was certainly influenced by the tastes of the time which were inclined toward the still life. "In a conspicuous sense, the artist Decker who came back from Munich was not the Decker who had arrived there a year earlier. On his return, Decker was a still-life painter. He essayed other themes as well but preferred still lifes of edibles - especially fruit. Though still lifes were common and popular, if never highly regarded, Decker had found a unique approach in their presentation." (W.H. Gerdts, Joseph Decker, Still Lifes, Landscapes and Images of Youth, New York, 1988, np)
In this work, in his utterly original style, Decker brought life to the relatively commonplace box of hard candy. "Another characteristic in Decker's late still lifes is his preference for small and humble subjects. While a few of these late pictures continue his investigation of the peach, and even melons occasionally appear, for the most part the fruit he chose to display are small: grapes, cherries, plums, gooseberries and especially strawberries, which he investigated numerous times, obviously enjoying the pulpy forms as well as the bright, ripe red color. Decker also returned to the subject of hard candy; but instead of the hard edges and sharp angles of both candy and candy box of the much maligned Upset of 1887, the later hard-candy pictures glisten like Christmas ornaments as the light plays over their soft, multicolored, varied forms." (Joseph Decker, Still Lifes, Landscapes and Images of Youth, np)