Latin American impressionist

Francisco Oller
from Bayamón, PR

Monday, June 17th, marks the 180th anniversary of the birth of Puerto Rican painter Francisco Oller de Cestero (aka Frasquito). Oller traveled to Europe and became the only Spanish-speaking artist to play a part, however small, in the French impressionist movement. He was a friend of Cézanne, Pissarro, and Manet, and a student of Gustave Courbet. In 1861, when he began to study under Courbet, 19-year-old Paul Cézanne arrived in Paris. Cézanne was living on a 125-franc monthly allowance sent to him from his father, a wealthy banker in Aix. Oller, who was poor, worked as a church sexton and sang baritone with an Italian opera company. Soon the two young men were studying together and often went to paint at Oller’s place in the village of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, west of Paris.

A branch between the two friends opened when they submitted works to the jury of the Salon. Oller’s was  in the new realistic mode of Courbet, and it was accepted. Cézanne, whose style as even more outrageously modern, was rejected. In the ensuing years, Oller traveled back and forth between San Juan, Madrid and Paris. In 1895, at the age of 62, Oller returned to France after a long absence, bringing with him what he considered his masterwork, El Velorio, a mural-sized canvas depicting a group of Puerto Rican country people at a wake for a young child. Oller’s work, done in a strong Courbetian style, was refused by the Salon, whose stylistic tastes had changed over the years.

One of his oils, “L’Étudiant,” is the property of Musée d’Orsay in Paris. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m planning on going sometime next week. Wanna join me ?

“L’étudiant” by Oller, Francisco. San Juan de Puerto Rico (Porto Rico) 1833 – Santurce (Porto Rico) 1917. Musée d’Orsay; Paris, FR.

El Velorio, c. 1893, óleo sobre tela. Colección: Museo de Historia, Antropología y Arte UPR.

Recommended websites:
(1) “Francisco Oller en la Voz del Centro“, Universidad de Puerto Rico
(2) “La política del duelo”, by Rubén Ríos Ávila , 80Grados
(3) “El Modernismo: de Sorolla à Picasso“, Fondation de l’Hermitage
(4) “Art: Francisco Oller, Puerto Rico Glimpsed“, The New York Times – Arts
(5) “Mi Puerto Rico, Master painters of the island 1780-1952“, Museo de Arte de Ponce
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One Response to Latin American impressionist

  1. Ratonet says:

    Au 19e siècle, Francisco Oller suivit les traces de Campeche. Il avait étudié à Madrid et à Paris, ce qui influença grandement son travail. Bien que ses peintures présentent souvent un style impressionniste ou réaliste, il a changé son style à chaque pièce en fonction de l’objet. Natures mortes, paysages, portraits, étaient tous parmi ses œuvres. C’est à son retour à Puerto Rico, en 1884, qu’Oller a commencé à s’intéresser à dépeindre des sujets portoricains. Il a également fondé une académie d’art et écrit un livre sur le dessin et la peinture du monde naturel.


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