Theodore Wores is known for his paintings of Hawai’i and Japan, places that he visited when few Americans had traveled there. ‘The Lei Maker,’ in the permanent collection of the Honolulu Museum of Art, is his most famous work. He also is known for paintings which feature the orchards near the Bay Area and Central Valley of California.
Wores was born in San Francisco and lived there most of his life. He first studied art when he was twelve, and was one of the first students to attend the San Francisco School of Design. He then moved to Europe for six years where he attended the Royal Academy in Munich. While there, in 1879 he traveled to Italy with artist friendsincludi ng Frank Duveneck, William Merritt Chase, John Henry Twachtman, and Joseph de Camp. There he met James McNeil Whistler who told him that he should travel to Japan. Before going, Wores studied Japanese culture, he wanted to capture the essence of traditional Japan which he felt was vanishing as the country opened up to foreigners. These paintings were exhibited early in his career in New York and London—few American artists had traveled to this country. His first of two visits to Hawai’i was in 1901. After 1910 he mainly painted scenes of California.