The Iris Flowers of HoriKiri, Tokio, circa 1893.
Theodore Wores (American, 1859–1939)
Oil on panel, 15 3/4 x 19 7/8 in. Crocker Art Museum Purchase, with funds provided by Gerald D. Gordon, 2009.47.

Theodore Wores was one of San Francisco’s first native artists, studying as a teenager under Virgil Williams at San Francisco’s California School of Design. In 1875, he enrolled at the Royal Academy in Munich.

During his European study, Wores made the acquaintance of James McNeill Whistler, whose admiration of Japanese aesthetics inspired him. In 1885, Wores became one of the first American artists to visit Japan, where he stayed for two years, followed Japanese customs, learned the language, and wrote numerous articles about the country. He returned for a second visit in 1892 and again stayed two years. While there, he sketched and painted on small wood panels, often directly from nature. This painting is a faithful depiction of the village of Horikiri, which was famous for its iris gardens.

In Japan, Wores’s dark, Munich-inspired palette lightened, and he began to use Impressionist color and brushwork. When he returned to California, he continued to work primarily in this style, producing landscape views of the San Francisco Bay Area and the Monterey region.

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