Lawrence Lebduska was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and as a young boy moved with his parents to their native Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic). He went to school to be a stained-glass maker, like his father, and later studied with noted set designer Josef Svoboda. Lebduska returned to the United States when he was eighteen and settled in New York. He painted murals across the city and worked for the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression. Lebduska loved nature, and his paintings focused on animals—his favorite were horses. He placed his menagerie in bright landscapes, which often combined disparate scenes like the forest and jungle. Lebduska experienced great success in the late 1930s and early 1940s when there was a new interest in self-taught artists, but his popularity later waned and his work was largely forgotten. He was known to trade his paintings for beer and cigarettes, until his work regained popularity with a one-man show in New York six years before his death.