An American painter trained in Munich, he brought to the U.S. the broad and spirited brushwork which derives from Hals, Rembrandt, and Velazquez. Born Frank Decker in Covington, Ky., he took his stepfather’s name. He began his art career as a church decorator, and in 1870 went to Munich, where he studied at the Academy with Strahuber and van Dieoz and came under the influence of Leibl. After a brilliant student career, he returned to Cincinnati as a portrait painter, but after two years went back to Munich where, in 1878, he opened a school. There and in Venice he gathered around him the “Duvenck Boys,” among them Twachtman, Blum and De Camp. Returning to the U.S. in 1888, he continued in Cincinnati his long and distinguished career as a teacher. From then until his death he traveled a great deal but did not paint very much. His brilliant brushwork is the hallmark of his style. Vibrant and sure at his best, he often slipped into superficial virtuosity. Unfortunately, too many of his students borrowed only the bravura of his technique without the basic vigor of his style.
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