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Theodore Wores

 (1859 - 1939)
Theodore Wores was active/lived in California, Hawaii.  Theodore Wores is known for landscape, portrait and genre painting.

Theodore Wores

Biography from the Archives of askART

Born in San Francisco, CA on Aug. 1, 1859, Theodore Wores began his art training at age 12 in the studio of Joseph Harrington who taught him color, composition, drawing, and perspective.  When the local School of Design opened in 1874 he was one of the first pupils to enroll.  After one year at that school under Virgil Williams, he further studied at the Royal Academy in Munich and painted with Rosenthal, Chase, Duveneck, and Whistler.

Upon returning to San Francisco in 1881, he began painting Chinatown subjects. Three years were spent in Japan in the mid-1880s followed by years of traveling when he exhibited in London, NYC, Boston, and made a second trip to Japan before returning to San Francisco in 1898.  About this time Wores concentrated on portraiture but began painting the California landscape for the first time.

The years 1901-03 were ones of travel in Hawaii, Samoa, and Spain.  The Wores family home and his studio burned in the 1906 fire.  The following year he was appointed dean of the San Francisco Art Institute, a position he held for six years.  In 1913 he painted in Hawaii and Calgary, Canada and 1915-17 was spent in Taos, NM where he painted the Southwest Indians.  In 1926 he remodeled an abandoned church in Saratoga and converted it into a weekend retreat while maintaining a residence in San Francisco at 1001 California Street.  His artistic output was great and included Japanese, Hawaiian, Samoan figure studies and San Francisco Chinatown subjects.

In his later years he concentrated on the flowering orchards around his studio in Saratoga.  During his early career his palette held the warm brown colors of the Munich School and evolved later to the lighter shades of Impressionism.

He died in San Francisco on Sept. 11, 1939 having had a long and successful career.

Member: Bohemian Club; Century Club; Salmagundi Club; Art Society of Japan; New English Art Club (London); San Francisco Art Association.

Exhibition: Royal Academy (Munich), 1876, 1878 (gold and bronze medals); Royal Academy (London); Paris Salon; Calif. State Fair, 1882, 1899; San Francisco Art Association, 1882-1915; World's Columbian Expo (Chicago), 1893; Calif. Midwinter Expo, 1894; Bohemian Club, 1894 (solo); NAD; St Louis Expo, 1895 (medal); Century Club (NYC), 1904; Alaska-Yukon Expo (Seattle), 1909 (gold medal); PPIE, 1915 (gold medal); Bohemian Club, 1922; Stanford Museum, 1922; Stendahl Gallery (LA), 1924; Cosmos Club (Washington, DC); GGIE, 1939.

Bohemian Club; Oakland Museum; CPLH; De Young Museum; SFMA; St Francis Hospital (SF); CGA; LACMA; White House (Washington, DC); Bancroft Library (UC Berkeley); Crocker Museum (Sacramento); Monterey Peninsula Museum; Honolulu Academy of Arts; Amon Carter Museum (Fort Worth); NMAA; Brooklyn Museum; Indianapolis Museum; Portland (OR) Museum; Triton Museum (Santa Clara); Society of Calif. Pioneers; CHS.

Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
California Art Research, 20 volumes; Impressionism, The Calif. View; Art in California (R. L. Bernier, 1916); California Impressionism (Wm. Gerdts & Will South); Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors & Engravers (Fielding, Mantle); Theodore Wores, the Japanese Years; Theodore Wores, Artist in Search of the Picturesque; American Art Annual 1919-33; SF Chronicle, 9-13-1939 (obituary).

Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

Biography from the Archives of askART
One of California's most famous painters during the post-Gold Rush expansion period, he was prolific and diverse with work ranging from subjects of the Orient, South Seas, the American Southwest, and the West Coast. He had a special fascination for Oriental subjects and made regular visits to Chinatown in San Francisco. His style began with the heavy palette and dark tones of the Munich School but later changed to Impressionism.

He was born in San Francisco and began taking art lessons when he was age 12 from Joseph Harrington. He enrolled in the San Francisco Art Association's California School of Design when it first opened and studied there with Virgil Williams.

From 1875-81, he was in Munich at the Royal Academy and studied with William Merritt Chase, Frank Duveneck, and traveled with them to Italy where he met James Whistler, who persuaded him to study Japanese art.

He returned to San Francisco, shared a studio with William Keith, and was one of the so-called "bohemian" artists--enthusiastic, free spirited, and willing to experiment artistically. He painted many Chinatown subjects and was the first instructor of the San Francisco Art Student's League.

From the mid-1880s to the late 1890s, he traveled extensively, spending three years in Japan where he was one of the first American artists to paint there and was unusual because he was more interested in painting the inhabitants than the landscape. He also went to London, New York City, Boston and again to Japan where he was disappointed because he thought the country was becoming too Europeanized. Seeking more exotic subjects, he went to Samoa before returning to San Francisco where he began painting California landscapes for the first time in addition to portraiture.

From 1901 to 1903, he traveled and painted and in Hawaii, held an exhibition with the Kilohana Art League of over one-hundred of his paintings, some of them including "The Lei Maker," which remain in the collection of the Honolulu Academy of Arts.

In 1906, he lost his home and studio in the San Francisco fire and earthquake. The following year until 1913, he became Dean at the California School of Design. His years after that included much more travel including Hawaii, Calgary, Canada, and New Mexico where he lived in Taos from 1915 to 1917 and did Indian figure and portrait painting.

Internationally known, Wores had extensive affiliations and exhibitions including the Salmagundi Club of New York; the Art Society of Japan, and the San Francisco Art Association. He exhibited at the Paris Salon, the Royal Academy of London, and the Chicago Exposition in 1893. He died in San Francisco.

Biography from Douglas Frazer Fine Art, Ltd.
A frequent traveler, Theodore Wores is known for his ability to capture on canvas those he met abroad as well as at home in California. The son of a merchant who fled Hungary during the revolution of 1848, he was born in San Francisco in August 1859.

Wores showed artistic talent at a young age, beginning his studies with Joseph Harrington at age twelve. He was one of the first students to enroll when the School of Design opened in San Francisco under the direction of Virgil Williams in 1874. The following year he left for Munich and art studies at the Royal Academy. There he studied with Toby Rosenthal (who had originally encouraged him to come to Munich), Alex Wagner, and Frank Duveneck. Wores stayed for six years, befriending other young American artists who called themselves "Duveneck's Boys."

In 1879 the "boys" traveled to Italy, and it was there, in Venice, that Wores met James A. Whistler. Whistler also instructed him, and because of the artist's interest in Asian art, perhaps inspired his pupil's later trip to Japan.

Wores returned to San Francisco in 1881 where he focused on painting portraits of ethnic Chinese in Chinatown. In fact, he was something of a trailblazer in depicting informal scenes of people going about their everyday lives.

That pioneering spirit took Wores to Japan in the mid-1880s, where he became one of the first American artists to live and paint there at the time. The many small panels he executed during this time were received with great critical acclaim.
Again Wores returned home to San Francisco, where in the late 1890s he was one of many artists active in the Bohemian Club. Soon, however, his wanderlust grew again.

He left for Hawaii and Samoa in April 1901, searching for suitable natives to paint. The one and a half year long trip yielded a tremendous number of works which were exhibited in Honolulu in 1902. Included among these was his most famous painting, and perhaps the most famous of all Hawaiian figure paintings, The Lei Maker.  Wores went to paint in Spain the following year, in 1903, before once again returning home to California.

Tragically, both his family home and his studio were destroyed in the fire of 1906. The following year he was named dean at the newly rebuilt and renamed San Francisco Art Institute. His tenure there lasted until 1913, at which point he traveled to Canada to paint the Calgary Indians, and later to the Southwest to paint the Native American Indians and their pueblos in the Taos area (from 1915-1917).

In later years, Wores concentrated less on figures and more on landscapes, particularly the wildflowers and orchards in the valleys near an old church he remodeled in Saratoga, California.  Though always admired for his impressionistic style, his prolific output, and for the "documentary quality" of his portraits of Chinese, Japanese, Hawaiians, and Samoans, it wasn't until after his death in San Francisco in 1939 that Wores became an internationally known artist.

Sources include:
Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art
Doris Dawdy,  Artists of the American West, Vol. 1
David Forbes, Encounters With Paradise
William Gerdts, Art Across America, Vol. 3
Edan Hughes, Artists in California 1786-1940
Peggy and Harold Samuels, Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West

Written by Sarah Nelson

Biography from William A. Karges Fine Art - Carmel
Theodore Wores was a native San Franciscan, and one of the most influential of that city's early artists. He was one of the first students enrolled at the San Francisco School of Design, when it opened in 1874. Wores also made his was to Europe where he studied at Munich's Royal Academy. He was also an avid traveler, having made painting expeditions to Japan, Hawaii, Spain, Samoa, Canada, and Taos, New Mexico.

In 1907, he was appointed Dean of the newly re-opened San Francisco Art Institute, a post he held for 6 years. Wores is best known for his detailed paintings of Japanese water gardens, and for looser more Impressionistic flowering orchard paintings done near Saratoga, California.

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About  Theodore Wores

Born:  1859 - San Francisco, California
Died:   1939 - San Francisco, California
Known for:  landscape, portrait and genre painting