Francisco Oller’s “Hacienda La Fortuna Now at Brooklyn Museum of Art

Yesterday, Efraín Barradas reminded us that the Brooklyn Museum of Art recently purchased a painting by our venerated nineteenth century Puerto Rican artist Francisco Oller. This painting, “Hacienda La Fortuna,” was placed on view on June 6, 2012, in the Museum’s modern French landscape area in the Beaux-Arts Court “as a masterwork of high Impressionism.” In his post “Paris and Puerto Rico Unite in Brooklyn Acquisition” (Brooklyn Museum blog) Richard Aste explains that the painting can now be viewed alongside Impressionist landscapes by Oller’s Paris masters and peers, Gustave Courbet, Camille Pissarro, Claude Monet, and Alfred Sisley. Aste writes:

Hacienda La Fortuna is the second Oller painting to enter a New York public collection—the first, his sublime still life Platanos Amarillos, was acquired by the Museo del Barrio in 2009. Brooklyn’s newest acquisition is, however, the only Oller hacienda painting (he executed six in total) to enter any collection, public or private, outside of Puerto Rico.”

“[. . .] Oller is at his most Impressionistic in Hacienda La Fortuna, which he painted when the avant-garde movement was still at its height in Paris. Here, the artist deftly captures nature’s fleeting effects of light and atmosphere, including in the foreground the morning mist of a Puerto Rican winter, with quick, broken brushstrokes. Oller completed this painting in the winter of 1885 for the Barcelona émigré José Gallart Forgas, who had commissioned him to paint portraits of all five of his Puerto Rican sugar mill complexes. Oller completed only this one, and the local painter and freed slave, Pío Casimiro Bacener (1840-1900), painted three: La Reparada, La Luciana, and La Serrano. Oller’s early morning view of Hacienda La Fortuna features the planter’s colonial mansion, his warehouse at left, and his sugar mill with a smokestack at right. It was in such mills that sugar cane was semi-processed into raw sugar and then shipped off to Brooklyn, which since 1860 was the world’s leading center of sugar refining. Throughout the second half of the century New York’s ‘sugar barons’ traded extensively with both Puerto Rico and Cuba, by then Spain’s only remaining colonies in the Americas. Puerto Rico and Cuba would remain colonies through the Spanish-American War of 1898.”

Francisco Oller (1833-1917) was born in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. He studied art in Puerto Rico with Juan Cleto Noa, in Spain with Federico de Madrazo y Kuntz (then director of the Prado Museum). Later in France, he pursued his studies under Thomas Couture, Gustave Courbet, and Charles Gleyre. There he met Camille Pissarro, Paul Cézanne, and Armand Guillaumin, who together with Couture and the work of Courbet influenced his work towards realism and impressionism. By 1865, Oller was known as the first Hispanic and Puerto Rican impressionist artist. In 1868 he founded The Free Academy of Art of Puerto Rico and in 1884 he founded an art school for young women, which was later known as the Universidad Nacional. Oller developed an interest in bringing out the reality of Puerto Rico’s landscape, its people, and culture through his works of art. [From previous post The Puerto Rico Museum of Art Receives Oller Painting]

For more on the painting, see

For more on Oller, see

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