Born in Nuremberg, Bavaria, Germany in 1864, William Ritschel became a seaman for merchant ships and developed a profound love for the sea at an early age. Following his seafaring years, he attended the Royal Academy in Munich where he received formal artistic training. Ritschel combined his artistic talents with his love of the sea and his work quickly garnered widespread praise throughout Europe. In 1895, Ritschel came to the United States and settled in New York where he befriended artists such as Childe Hassam, J. Alden Weir, Edward Redfield, Willard Metcalf and others who were champions of the Impressionist style of painting.
Ritschel moved to California in 1909 where he found a waiting and inexhaustible subject along the distincitve coastline. He eventually settled in Carmel and in 1918 built an imposing, stone studio and home on the Highland bluffs overlooking the ocean. It was here, inspired by the sound of the crashing surf and the breezes from the open sea, that he produced his strongest and best work. Windswept Cypress, Point Lobos is a masterful depiction of the artist's favorite locale, composed in a muted palette of blues, greens and grays with subtle dabs of orange and red brushstrokes that serve to enliven the foreground landscape. The present work demonstrates Ritschel's ongoing fascination with the dramatic, rugged coastal land and sea and the play of light and color. The strong diagonal line created by the rocks and trees reinforces Ritschel's clarity of vision and brings the image directly to the forefront of the picture plane to immediately engage the viewer. Windswept Cypress, Point Lobos is at once grandiose in its depiction of the magnificence of nature, and at the same time intimate in its rendering of an everyday scene that surrounded the artist at his home along the northern California coast.