Perhaps the leading Californian artist to paint scenes of the ocean, William Ritschel used an international education and his firsthand experiences at sea to inspire some purely divine maritime and marine theme paintings. Born in Germany, he apprenticed in with merchant shipping interests and sketched many scenes of his wide voyages. He briefly studied art at the Royal Academy in Munich and then emigrated to New York in 1895, where he joined the Salmagundi Club and the Watercolor Society. He ventured west in 1901 and settled into Carmel, California in 1911.
Ritschel exhibited internationally and on both coasts of America, and was elected to the National Academy in 1914. This was primarily on the acclaim generated by his brilliant views of the coasts, and his Plein Air Impressionist style put him in the forefront of the American movement, alongside his friend and contemporary Childe Hassam. Ritschel sought and successfully developed techniques that allowed him to portray the diverse moods and emotions of the sea. Rather diverse himself, he built a grand castle-like estate and studio and was often seen on the Californian Coast painting in an islanders sarong amongst the Cypress trees of Carmel.