A beauty of a broadside portrait showing the three-masted lumber schooner, C.H. MERCHANT off Point Bonita, San Francisco. The schooner was built and named for the patriarch of the influential lumber business family of Marshfield, Coos Bay, Oregon. The Merchants also had substantial holdings in San Francisco and Honolulu, with a business district street in each city bearing their family surname. This excellent portrait of the sharp schooner by artist Joseph Lee captures such exacting detail that of the five men shown on deck, one stands and waves directly to all viewers. The red and blue color touches Lee applied to accent the deck and instruments are highly unusual and so well done that, with the exacting display of the bow's gilt headpiece, the details are extremely realistic.
The 340-ton schooner was built in 1877 by Hans Reed, a Norwegian-born shipwright who worked seven years in North's Yard in San Francisco. Reed's connection to Charles Merchant runs through the E.B. Dean & Co. lumber mills, where Merchant was a partner and then the primary operator. In 1877, Puget Sound's lumber fleet sent 72 loads on 65 vessels to just the foreign ports carrying a total of more than 37 million feet of lumber, and millions more domestically. C.H. MARSHALL made a voyage to Honolulu in this maiden season, and several others through her career.
Merchant, who was also briefly a postmaster in Oregon, married Mary Gunn of Massachusetts and they had 16 children, a few of whom established residences in Honolulu, where this painting came out of an estate after more than 100 years. Its direct provenance to this family adds to the historic significance and artistic presence of this West Coast painting.
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