The vibrant brushstrokes of The Sugar Mill – (ca. 1890) are typical of the artist’s “proto-Impressionist” style. The looming permanence of the mill and adjacent structures is contrasted by swaths of verdant plants and trees and a diaphanous blue sky. This peaceful image of rustic life also includes the figure of the “jíbaro”—the rural poor of Puerto Rican lore—at the center of the composition. The work also documents an important moment in the island’s economic history, namely the second phase of technological development in the sugar industry. Here we see a mill operated by oxen, an advance over the “conuco” mills—a rudimentary milling process initially worked by slaves. These would inevitably be displaced by modern factory mills.


  • Title: The Sugar Mill
  • Creator: Francisco Oller y Cestero
  • Date Created: 1890
  • Physical Dimensions: 10 1/2 x 13 3/4 in
  • Credit Line: Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico Collection | Gift of Ferrer Rincón Family
  • Subject Keywords: Sugar mill, Rustic life, Island, Economic history, Technological development, Suga industry, Caribbean
  • Medium: Oil paint
  • Support: Wood

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