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Francisco Oller

Francisco Manuel Oller y Cestero

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Francisco Oller (June 17, 1833 – May 17, 1917) was a Puerto Rican visual artist. Oller is the only Latin American painter to have played a role in the development of Impressionism.

Oller (birth name: Francisco Manuel Oller y Cestero ) was born in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, the third of four children of aristocratic and wealthy Spanish parents Cayetano Juan Oller y Fromesta and María del Carmen Cestero Dávila. When he was eleven he began to study art under the tutelage of Juan Cleto Noa, a painter who had an art academy in San Juan, Puerto Rico. There, Oller demonstrated that he had an enormous talent in art and in 1848, General Juan Prim, Governor of Puerto Rico, offered Oller the opportunity to continue his studies in Rome. However, the offer was not accepted as Oller's mother felt that he was too young to travel abroad by himself

When Oller was eighteen, he moved to Madrid, Spain, where he studied painting at the Royal Academy of San Fernando, under the tutelage of Don Federico de Madrazo y Kuntz, director of the Prado Museum. In 1858, he moved to Paris, France where he studied under Thomas Couture. Later he enrolled to study art in the Louvre under the instruction of Gustave Courbet. During his free time, Oller, who had a baritone type of singing voice, worked and participated in local Italian operas. He frequently visited cafés where he met with fellow artists. He also became a friend of fellow Puerto Ricans Ramón Emeterio Betances y Alacán and Salvador Carbonell del Toro, who were expatriates in France because of their political beliefs. In 1859, Oller exhibited some of his artistic works next to those of Bazille, Renoir, Monet, and Sisley.

For a short time, Paul Cézanne was one of Oller's students, although their professional relationship deteriorated with time. By 1865, Oller was known as the first Puerto Rican and Hispanic Impressionist artist. In 1868, he founded The Free Academy of Art of Puerto Rico.

In 1884, he founded an art school for young women which was later to be known as the Universidad Nacional. In 1871, Spain honored Oller by naming him a member of the Caballeros de la Orden de Carlos III (which translates to Knighthood of the Order of Carlos III), and a year later he became the official painter of the Royal Court of Amadeo I. Oller developed an interest in bringing out the reality of Puerto Rico's landscape, its people, and culture through his works of art. Oller's paintings can be found in museums worldwide, including the Musée d'Orsay in France.

Francisco Oller died on May 17, 1917 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Oller was a prolific painter with works ranging in topic from still-lifes and landscapes to historical events and portraiture. While he was involved with several painting movements, Realism, Naturalism and Impressionism; he is best known for his Impressionist works.

The town of Cataño in Puerto Rico, named a high school after him and the City of New York renamed P.S.61 in The Bronx P.S. Francisco Oller. There is also a Francisco Oller Library in the Escuela de Artes Plásticas (School of Plastic Arts) in San Juan. The Francisco Oller Museum where many artists, such as Tomás Batista, exhibit their work is located in the city of Bayamón. In Buffalo, New York there is a Francisco Oller and Diego Rivera Museum of Art where Manuel Rivera-Ortiz and other artists have exhibited their work.

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Francisco Oller Artworks
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