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Francisco Oller y Cestero (1833 - 1917)

Lot 36: FRANCISCO MANUEL OLLER (1833-1917)


November 16, 2005
New York, NY, US

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18 1/4 by 14 1/2 in.

alternate measurements
(46.5 by 37 cm)

oil on canvas

signed and dedicated al Gral Contreras su amigo Oller lower right

Executed circa 1877-78.

We wish to thank Prof. Haydee Venegas for her kind assistance in confirming the authenticity of this lot.


Private Collection, Barcelona


Francisco Oller, Puerto Rico's most celebrated nineteenth century painter, revealed such artistic promise as a child that at eighteen he was sent to Spain to develop his talent at the Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid for three years. From Spain he went to Paris, where he resided for five years, soaking up the emerging Impressionist style through his friendship with Pissaro and studies with Courbet. He has since been known as the only Hispanic painter to have influenced the development of Impressionism. Until 1884, when he permanently settled in Puerto Rico, Oller often resided in Madrid, and in 1872 was selected to be the official court painter for the Spanish Court.

During this time he produced the historical painting, The Charge of Treviño (Palacio Real, Madrid) depicting Colonel Juan Contreras at the battle of Treviño in 1875 during the Carlist Wars of Spain. In this battle, Colonel Contreras was heroically victorious at overwhelming odds against him, resulting in his promotion to general.

Oller's use of color and his execution of paint on the canvas exemplifies an ideal partnership between subject and style. His Impressionist background taught him to capture a moment and investigate the visual effects caused by the temporality of light through the perceived colors an object projected. Oller adapted this tenet beautifully to a subject of human action, where the chaos and lightning pace of the battle is conveyed through the rapid brushstrokes across the canvas as if the artist was a witness at Treviño, struggling to document a glorious moment in the battle as it melted away before his eyes. The immediacy with which Oller's style conveys the subject matter to the viewer dramatizes the importance of Treviño and the glorification of its hero, General Contreras.

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Latin American

November 16, 2005, 12:00 AM EST

New York, NY, US

For Sale from Sotheby's