82
82

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION

Theodore Wores
AMERICAN
THE RETURN FROM THE CHERRY GROVE, TOKYO
Estimate
400,000600,000
JUMP TO LOT
82

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION

Theodore Wores
AMERICAN
THE RETURN FROM THE CHERRY GROVE, TOKYO
Estimate
400,000600,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

19th Century European Art

|
New York

Theodore Wores
1858 - 1939
AMERICAN
THE RETURN FROM THE CHERRY GROVE, TOKYO
signed Theo Wores, with his Japanese stamp, and dated 1890 (lower left)
oil on canvas
46 by 32 in.
117 by 81 cm
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Provenance

Possibly, Prince Henry of Bourbon-Parma, Count of Bardi (1851-1905) (acquired from the artist's exhibition at Dowdeswell & Dowdeswell, London, 1889)
Private Collection, Sweeden
Thence by descent (and sold Uppsala Auktions Kammare, December 1, 2009, lot 84, illustrated and as cover (as Utflykt i Tokyo))

Exhibited

Probaby, Tsukuji Gallery, Tokyo, November 1887
Probably, Chicago, Interstate Industrial Exposition (Art Hall), 1888
New York, Riechard Gallery, April 1888 
London, Dowdeswell & Dowdeswell, 1889
London, Royal Academy, 1890, no. 125 (as Returning from the cherry groves, Tokio, Japan)

Literature

"An Interesting Display of Pictures of Japan by an American Artist," New York Herald, April 22, 1888, p. 6 (as Coming Home from the Cherry Groves)
"Mr. Theodore Wores' Pictures," The Japan Daily Mail, August 31, 1889, p. 190 (as Coming Home from the Cherry Groves)
Theodore Wores, "An American Artist in Japan," The Century, vol. 38, no. 5, September 1889, illustrated p. 675
Henry Blackburn, ed., Academy Notes, London, 1890, p. 8, no. 125, illustrated p. 39
"The Royal Academy," The Anthanaeum, May 24, 1890, p. 677
"A California Artist Honored Abroad," The Morning Call, San Francisco, March 15, 1891, p. 8
Theodore Wores, An American Artist in Meiji Japan, exh. cat., Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, California, May 5, 1993-January 23, 1994, illustrated p. 125 (a photograph from the artist's album, and recorded as lost)
Probably, Kristen M. Jensen, The American Salon: The Art Gallery at the Chicago Interstate Industrial Exposition, 1873-1890, Ph.D. diss., The City University of New York, 2007, vol. II, p. 496

Catalogue Note

Theodore Wores and his masterworks like The Return from the Cherry Grove, Toyko stand at the center of an international exchange of art and culture in the late nineteenth century.   Western artists like James-Jacques-Joseph Tissot and Claude Monet were caught under the spell of Japonisme, inspired by imported  blue-and-white ceramics, lacquer-ware, and woodblock prints.  In contrast, Wores’ compositions were informed by first-hand observations made during his travels from his hometown San Francisco to Japan in 1885 to 1887.  Though Wores owned an extensive library of books on Japanese history, they were no match for the immersive experience of daily life there.  As Wores remembered, “I can’t tell you what affect my first few months’ stay in that country had upon me.  I could do nothing, it was all so new, so strange, so wonderfully beautiful that when I looked around for a subject I was bewildered.” (as quoted in Lewis Ferbraché, Theodore Wores, Artist in Search of the Picturesque, San Francisco, 1968, p. 16).  The artist’s voyage may have been prompted by his association with the great proponent of Japanese aesthetics, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, who Wores encountered as a student in Venice in 1880, as well as the vibrancy of San Francisco’s Chinatown.  Throughout the early 1880s the artist’s highly detailed canvases recorded Chinatown’s busy shops and bustling restaurants among other more private spaces. These paintings were among the first of their kind in the United States and earned the artist professional accolades and profitable commissions— all affording Wores the means to realize his goal of visiting Japan (Jan Newstrom Thompson, Theodore Wores, An American Artist in Meiji Japan,  p. 32).  

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. 

19th Century European Art

|
New York