William Frederick Ritschel was primarily known for his marine and coastal views of the Carmel area. A talented and successful early California artist, his paintings still evoke a strong emotional response. Using impressionistic lighting effects to create scenes that varied from quiet moonlit shores to dramatic, violent ocean storms, Ritschel had a remarkable ability to convey a particular mood or atmosphere.
Ritschel was born in Nuremberg, Germany on July 11th, 1864 and worked as a sailor in his youth. He was inspired by the ocean and its changing moods and became fascinated by it as he drew and sketched. He studied at the Royal Academy in Munich, and was quite well known throughout Europe. Immigrating to New York City in 1895, he also enjoyed considerable success in the United States.
He was a member of the Salamagundi Club and the New York Watercolor Society. Like other followers of the Impressionist style, he explored the quality of light in each scene, using loose, clearly visible brushstrokes that captured a feeling of movement and spontaneity. His attraction to the ocean, with its ever-changing moods and motions, seemed perfectly suited to the impressionist approach.
In 1911, he came to Carmel, California, which was quickly becoming a thriving artists’ colony as painters began to arrive following the San Francisco earthquake. In 1912, he began to exhibit his California coastal scenes at venues on the East Coast and simultaneously displayed his works at the Art Gallery at the Del Monte Hotel in Monterey.
In 1918, he built “Castel a Mare”, his castle-like home in the Carmel Highlands area, perched directly on the ocean’s edge. He was known as a flamboyant character, often dressing in a flowered sarong.
In 1913, artist Armin Hansen moved to Carmel, and was eventually introduced to William Ritschel in 1918. Ritschel arranged for Hansen to show his works in a New York gallery and Armin Hansen eventually became one of the most prominent and celebrated early California artists who also focused on marine and coastal subjects.
Ritschel traveled around the world and painted the seas and coasts of various exotic locations including the South Seas, Asia, Capri, and Majorca. He died in his beloved “Castel a Mare” on March 11th, 1949. In October of 1949, Armin Hansen was the author of a moving tribute to the artist for Ritschel’s Memorial Exhibition which was held at the Carmel Art Association.
For additional information about currently available paintings by William Ritschel and Armin Hansen, please contact our staff at William A. Karges Fine Art in Carmel at (800) 833-9185.