This impressive yacht portrait is of Captain John Barneson's personal yacht WESTWARD, designed by William Garden, and built at the W.F. Stone yard at Oakland in 1915. The sleek cutter is depicted on San Francisco Bay off Point Cavallo. In the background, Mount Tamalpais rises majestically above Richardson Bay and the township of Sausalito just off the tip of WESTWARD's bow.
Captain John Barneson was one of the most important figures in commerce and development on the Pacific Coast of California. In his memoirs, President Herbert Hoover described Barneson as "one of the choice souls of American life". As a young man Barneson went to sea before the mast, earning his Master's license in 1883 then rising to command numerous vessels. He went on to own several famous ships, including the McKay clipper GLORY OF THE SEAS and the early sailing tanker FALLS OF CLYDE. He retired from the sea in 1890, and became a prominent pioneer in the development of fuel oil propulsion for steamships. He was responsible for the first oil pipeline in the State of California and was Founder of General Petroleum which he later sold to Standard Oil. John Barneson was one of the most popular social and business figures in the early 1900s and is credited with helping transform the economy of California.
This painting was commissioned by Barneson's board of directors and presented to him upon the occasion of his formal retirement in 1928. It has recently been acquired directly from the Barneson family. William A. Coulter is considered the dean of West Coast Maritime painting. Of the handful of maritime specialists working on America's West Coast in the late 19th century, Coulter was by far the most dedicated and accomplished. He is known to have been commissioned to paint several of John Barneson's vessels.
The painting bears a 14k gold plaque with the inscription: JOHN BARNESON- In appreciation of his admirable leadership, the employees of the General Petroleum Corporation, present this token of love and esteem.
Exhibited 2006, William A. Coulter, A Brush with the Sea,
San Francisco National Maritime Park.
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