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William Ritschel was born in Nurmberg, Germany where he was educated at the Latin and Industrial School. Ritschel then studied art at the Royal Academy in Munich where he excelled at painting the sea, something he had begun sketching years earlier while working on merchant ships. Ritchel immigrated to New York in 1895 and nearly fifteen years later settled in Carmel, California. He continued to exhibit his marine paintings in New York and in 1918 was elected to the National Academy of Design. Ritschel never went far from the sea for inspiration. He built a home on a bluff near Carmel and was a frequent sight on the rocks and beaches nearby.