Paul Detlefsen


Paul Detlefsen, born in Chicago in 1900, studied at the Chicago Art Institute and the Academy of Fine Arts, before going to Hollywood, California where he made a living by painting backdrops for films. He joined Warner Brothers art department to work on “Cabin in the Cotton” with Bette Davis and Richard Barthelmes and stayed with the company for twenty years. Over those years he and Walt Disney became good friends and he remained in the film industry for thirty years.
At age 50, he tried his hand as a calendar artist. His first painting, “The Good Old Days,” scored an immediate success and was topped in popularity only by Norman Rockwell’s, “Boy Scout” calendar from Brown & Bigelow.
Paul Detlefsen’s work can best be described as “illustrative” or “definitive landscape” painting. Although the settings and subjects were strictly figments of his imagination, he traveled all over the United States taking color photos for reference, and tried to create the kind of landscapes with which most Americans could identify. His blend of beautiful scenery with nostalgic elements like horse-drawn wagons and blacksmith shops depicted America in the “good old days.”
Paul Detlefsen painted up to six months prior to his death on August 1, 1986 at age 86.

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