Upon his arrival to the wealthy port-city of Yokohama, Wores was disappointed to find an area under significant international influence and modernization. Before long, he moved to Tokyo, learned conversational Japanese, and lived as a local in his home in the suburb of Kanasugimura (Ferbraché, p. 26; Thompson p. 34). This commitment to the culture is likely why, in Return from the Cherry Grove and all of the paintings of his Japanese production, Wores excised American and European elements in favor of the “wealth and splendor of material I see around me” (as quoted in Ferbraché, p. 22). The Japanese love of flowers was a frequent theme in the many works Wores completed while abroad (Thompson, p. 39). In his widely read article “An American Artist in Japan,” Wores explained that flowers are inseparable from the life, art, and literature of the people… great avenues and groves of these [cherry] trees are planted for the sake of their blossoms… in this aesthetic land, where the sense of sight receives as much consideration as that of taste, these trees in exhibiting themselves once a year in floral attire are considered as having fully performed their duty” (Wores, pp. 672, 674). In the present work, thin branches full of pink and white blossoms spill across the laps of a girl, rattling in a rickshaw down a narrow street bordered by closely packed buildings (including a barber shop and a bath house), an oil-paper parasol shielding them from the bright sun of a cloudless sky. The composition’s intricate details, combined with bright palette and emotive brushwork, evidences both Wores’ early academic training at the Munich Academy and the pictorial influence of his friend William Merritt Chase and fellow American Impressionists. Return from the Cherry Grove is enhanced by its original frame, with its elaborate gilded carvings of winding trees and birds. In Tokyo, Wores met a Japanese craftsman underemployed by basic carpentry work and commissioned him to make a series of frames, and “each successive one seemed an improvement on the last” (Wores, p. 680).
Return from the Cherry Grove was likely first exhibited at Toyko’s Tsukuji Gallery in 1887 as a charitable benefit for an area school. While specific mention of The Return from the Cherry Grove is difficult to find in contemporary references, it does seem that the painting, among others, travelled extensively throughout the United States upon Wores’ return in 1888. It may have been included in Wores’ homecoming show at the San Francisco Art Association, later travelling to Boston and the Chicago Interstate Exposition; it received critical acclaim when hung at New York's Reichard Gallery. Wores was as brilliant a marketer as an artist, and the fame gained from works like Return from the Cherry Grove allowed him to again travel abroad— this time to London in April 1889. There, Oscar Wilde, who called Wores “one of the cleverest of the young American painters,” gained him entry into the city’s elite circles, while Whistler helped organize the artist’s one man show at the Dowdeswell Gallery (Oscar Wilde, “London Day by Day,” The London Daily Telegraph, April 12, 1889, as quoted in Thompson, p. 52) . While at that gallery Prince Henry of Bourbon reportedly purchased as many as five of Wores' pantings, including very likely The Return from the Cherry Grove — but not before the artist was invited to hang it at the Royal Academy.
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