A slick, cool somber mood pervades the coastal anchorage of two California lumber schooners in this early 20TH Century look by William Ritschel. The evening fog, wet but forgiving, is holding the lanterns' glow in the air and a bit of the bright bounces back off the cool ripple of the water's surface.
The crews are not visible, yet there is a show of activity with a cabin brightly lit in the closest schooner while the sails are being slackened on the other. The blunt fore-and-aft rigged vessels could pile quite high with wood cut from the Pacific Northwest forests and ship coastwise from San Diego to Olympia. In those ports, merchant ships from the world over would procure the lumber to foster the greatest building expansion the world has ever experience in the decades of the late 19TH and early 20TH Centuries.
From the elevated perspective, it is easy to imagine Ritschel stalking the cliff sides of California and spotting the schooners in the open calm. The oil on the canvas is stroked and worked so excessively that it has the feel of mist itself, and most likely some California fog is imbued into the mix from his open air Carmel studio where he painted. The small gig boats tethered with rope make it possible for the sailors and artist to have visited each other as well.
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