Painted circa 1912.We wish to thank Dr. Osiris Delgado Mercado for his kind assistance in confirming the authenticity of this lot.
Puerto Rico?s most accomplished and beloved nineteenth-century painter, Francisco Oller fused aspects of European Impressionism and Realism with a profound desire to create a truly national art rooted in the Island?s particular regional and socio-political circumstances. Born in San Juan, Oller lived and studied intermittently in Madrid and Paris from 1851 through 1884 when he finally established himself permanently on the Island. However during his European sojourns he became a member of the extended mid-nineteenth century Parisian School counting among his fellow pupils Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Frédéric Bazille, Paul Cézanne, and Camille Pissarro. He maintained close friendships with the latter two, while often referring to himself as a disciple of Édouard Manet and Gustave Courbet?with whom he shared a number of formal and aesthetic affinities. While Oller?s still lives are often embedded with the aurora of Spanish Realism, it is his landscapes that suggest the painterly brushstrokes and atmospheric qualities of Impressionism. Painted towards the end of his life, View of the Guaraguao?a newly discovered work by Oller? represents the hand of a mature artist, confident and assured, conversant with the artistic tendencies of his time and able to transform these into a highly personalized and accomplished style that captures the exuberance of the tropical vegetation and the intensity of the Caribbean light. Intimate in scale and painted at a time in which the artist was convalescing from an illness, this landscape view of the countryside in the Barrio of Guaraguao situated just south of San Juan represents a popular motif in the artist?s oeuvre and one he revisited on numerous occasions as is evident in Paisaje con palma real (c. 1910) from the collection of the Ateneo Puertorriqueño in San Juan. Both views are remarkably similar with the sweeping royal palms swaying to the Caribbean breeze and providing a visual counterbalance to the dense vegetation and the diagonals of the hills and pathways. The art historian Marimar Benítez summarizes the effects of this scene as follows: ?The pathway partially covered by vegetation, the neglected fence, and the uncultivated fields which Oller presents preferentially in his landscapes of Puerto Rico evoke the virgin earth of the New World.? (1) Indeed, Oller?s landscapes of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century document vistas relatively untouched by the effects of modernity and industrialization?vast expanses of land that would be transformed a century later into the Island?s ever increasing urban and suburban fabric. (1) Marimar Benítez, ?Catálogo: Paisaje palma real? in Francisco Oller: Un realista del impresionismo, Exposición organizada por el Museo de Arte de Ponce en conmemoración del sesquicentario del natalicio del pintor puertorriqueño Francisco Oller (1883-1917) (Ponce, Puerto Rico: Museo de Arte de Ponce, 1983), p. 199.