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Norton Bush studied with Jasper Cropsey as a teenager in New York and then emigrated to California where he became part of the fledgling art colony in San Francisco during the 1860s. After a sketching tour to Central America in 1868, Bush increasingly turned to tropical subjects, which were popular in San Francisco. A majority of San Francisco residents before 1869 had experienced a taste of the tropics in their pioneer journey to California, and Bush's transcriptions of the lush beauty of the region evoked nostalgic memories. Tropical scenes lent themselves to what is known today as the “luminist” aesthetic, in which artists created beautiful harmonies out of the effect of light on atmosphere. When painting California scenes, Bush often chose to paint water in the luminist mode.