By the 1870s, San Francisco's establishment as the maritime center of the west coast began to develop its cultural importance as well. Merchant sail was augmented with an insurgence of boats built and sailed purely for pleasure. This excellent yacht portrait by Joseph Lee captures both the romance of the era and an important visual record of one of the Bay Area's early pleasure craft. We believe it to be the yacht EMERALD, but hat has yet to be positively confirmed with a visual record.
Showing Point Bonita and the Marin headlands off her starboard quarter, the yawl moves easily to windward wearing the yachting ensign at her gaff truck. The burgee of the San Francisco Yacht Club, the oldest such organization on the West Coast, flies prominently from her top mast. The rig tells the tale of a vessel often sailed single handed. Note Lee's trademark rigging detail showing the self-tacking jib boom, lazy-jacks rigged to catch the lowering sails and all lines run to the cockpit.
Although little of Joseph Lee's personal history survives, his importance as the foremost ship portraitist is firmly established in the paintings he created, each preserving a unique moment of West Coast maritime history with great precision and appeal.
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