Search the Toy Encyclopedia

Paul Detlefsen
By Euphrates
Paul Detlefsen I don't know much about Paul Detlefsen other than the fact that he is a highly collected American realist and that his most popular work is from the '50s and '60s. I don't know when he started painting, how long he painted for and if he is still alive today. I do know that if you are a baby boomer trying to re-accumulate all of the memories from your childhood, you better look into this guy's work. If your parents or a relative had one of his pieces, seeing them again will bring back some great memories.

Paul's work usually depicts scenes of rural Americana featuring wet, lush greens and vibrant reds. Most of his pieces feature a red barn, a mill, a pond or someone in a straw hat, very Tom Sawyer meets Norman Rockwell. If you aren't overly cynical, the paintings really do convey a sense of peaceful nostalgia.

You can find Detlefsen prints all over the web and I am sure at local yard sales and flea markets. Most sell for $20-$40 depending on condition, age, the quality of the frame and the scarcity of the print. Some of his more risque prints like "Wilderness Paradise" and Sweet Leilani" may set you back over $100.

Paul Detlefsen Biography

Born in Chicago in 1900, the son of a medical doctor, Detlefsen studied at the Chicago Art Institute and the Academy of Fine Arts before heading to Hollywood to make a name for himself in the cartoon business. He couldn't get a job in the animation field, so he settled for painting backdrops for films. Soon he became one of the early masters of special effects. He supervised specialized camera crews that augmented his background creations. He worked for Cecil B. Demille and Douglas Fairbanks.

He joined Warner Brothers to work on "Cabin in the Cotton" with Bette Davis and Richard Barthelmes. He stayed with the company twenty years and over those years he and Walt Disney became good friends. He was in the film industry for thirty years.

Movies fell on hard time and Detelefsen decided at age 50 to try 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. Most of the scenes created by Paul Detlefsen were of his own creation and featured nostalgic charming turn of the century rural settings that many of us can remember from our childhood. For his models he used his daughter, grandchildren, other family members and friends. He would photograph the scene so he could paint, concentrating on realism, beauty and of course the nostalgia. He did do two modern abstracts but decided that was not for him.

Detlefsen painted up to six months prior to his death on August 1, 1986 at age 86.

Bio from

Partial List of Paintings

A Sturdy Landmark
Americana Scene
Boyhood Memories
Close of Day - (from Boyhood Memories Series)
Covered Bridge
Days to Remember - (from Boyhood Memories Series)
Gathering Apples
Guardian Pine
Happy Days
Horse and Buggy Days
In Days Gone By
Iron Horse
Man and Boy in Wagon
Reflected Beauty
Schools Out
Spring Morn
Sweet Leilani
The Blacksmith
The Big Moment
The Good Old Days
The Good Old Summertime - (from Boyhood Memories Series)
The Old Swimming Hole - (from Boyhood Memories Series)
The Smithy
Water Wagon
Wilderness Paradise

Other Collectibles

Milton Bradley "A Special Time" Puzzle
Milton Bradley "The Good Old Days" Puzzle
Milton Bradley "Water Wagon" Puzzle
Milton Bradley "Spring Blossoms" Puzzle
Milton Bradley "The Letter" Puzzle
"Four Seasons" Puzzles - "Winter", "Summer", "Spring" and "Fall"
"Close of the Day" Puzzle by Tuco
Copenhagen Studios "Memories" Collectible Plates
D.A.C. Placemats - "Covered Bridge", "Happy Days", "Memories" and "The Smithy"

Copyright 1996-2011 All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission is prohibited.