This period 1930s signed oil on stretched canvas painting was created by the New York state fine artist and illustrator Robert T. Riley. With a social realist / WPA styled grittiness, Riley captures the hardscrapple life of deck hands hard at work, while eluding to the anxieties of the Great Depression. The stylized rigging suggests the mechanization of the Industrial revolution, and the sailors pulling up the sails find their muscles strained to the point of breaking in an homage to John Henry. In the original rough hewn painted wood frame that is as gritty and compromised as the vision set forth on the canvas.
This signed ship deck genre painting effortlessly captures the appeal of the WPA movement and story telling through art that was a part of the modernist painter tradition during the 1930s.