Travel and native peoples provided a unique subject matter for the paintings of Theodore Wores. He was a child prodigy and at the age of sixteen, was one of the first students to enroll at the School of Design in San Francisco. He then headed to Munich under Frank Duveneck.
Wores would join the other "Duveneck's Boys", following their teacher and mentor around Italy and Europe. While in Venice Wores met James Whistler, who also became his most inspirational teacher.
By 1881 he was back in San Francisco, where he painted remarkably realistic portraits of the Chinese residents in the city's famous Chinatown district. A few years later he traveled to Japan, where once again, he painted the native people in realistic activities, and not idyllic of fantasized environments.
This pattern would continue for the rest of Wores' life - an exotic journey, a period of documentation and work, and then a return home. His Impressionistic style never varied, only his subject matter. Additionally, he would always work in a documentary fashion, painting portraits and landscapes of realistic scenes and activities.
His traveled to Hawaii and Samoa, staging a huge exhibition in Honolulu, which brought him a great deal of attention. After this he headed to Spain, and then back to California.
The 1906 earthquake in San Francisco destroyed his home and studio, along with a majority of his work. Wores was named as dean of the rebuilt San Francisco Art Institute, where he managed to stay put until 1913, when he took a journey to Canada to paint the Calgary Indians, and then south into the Southwestern United States to sketch and paint the Indians of the region and the pueblos around Taos.
He exhibited widely, and his works are in many major museums and collections.