The Chinese Fishmonger

  • Theodore Wores, The Chinese Fishmonger, 1881, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Drs. Ben and A. Jess Shenson, 1972.153

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Theodore Wores came to know San Francisco's Chinatown as a child, when he walked home from his father's hat business through the bustling Asian community. The Chinese Fishmonger was the first painting he completed after returning to America from Europe, and the dark tones, strong highlights, and expressive brushstrokes reflect his Munich training. Wores struggled to get Chinese people to pose for his paintings until one of his young assistants, a Chinese student named Ah Gai, accompanied him to translate his requests. In this image, Wores captured the glistening, slimy scales of the fish as they slid from the basket onto the tabletop, so that we can imagine the exotic smells and hubbub of Chinatown's street markets.

The Chinese Fishmonger
On View
34 3/4 x 46 1/8 in. (88.3 x 117.0 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of Drs. Ben and A. Jess Shenson

Mediums Description
oil on canvas
  • Figure male
  • Occupation – vendor – fishmonger
  • Architecture Interior – commercial – market
  • Object – other – basket
Object Number
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI