In 1921 following a visit to the Balearic Islands, La Thangue exhibited A Spanish Mill (Private Collection) at the Royal Academy. Showing a motif similar to that in the present work, the larger Academy picture represents the mill from the rear, with sails unfurled, while here we are given a view from the front. Both canvases were probably executed on the same occasion, and although painted at the roadside, both provide evidence of the painter's skill as a spontaneous composer. In the present example, the mill and horizon are intuitively positioned according to 'golden section', while the gentle slope of the roadway takes the eye into the picture. The counterpoint to its dramatic sails, facing the direction of the wind, is the solitary peasant and his cart. This was a favourite device, and a feature of works such as A Provençal Farmhouse (Bradford Art Galleries and Museum) and Selling Chickens in Liguria (National Museums on Merseyside).
Travellers had begun to explore the Balearic Islands in the late nineteenth century, savouring the beauties of Palma and extolling the coastal villages of Majorca. Its inland mountains and valleys, particularly Valldemosa, were recommended to artists in search of the picturesque. La Thangue however, true to his roots, avoided the conventional beauty spots and selected one of its less obvious sights at Buger, on the road between Palma and Pollensa. An ancient settlement dating back to Roman times, in La Thangue's day this was a village of a few hundred inhabitants. As is clear from the present work, the land around Buger rises to the island's central plain from the exposed coastline seen in the background. This and the ready supply of water from the Torrent de Buger made it sufficiently fertile for cereals as well as olives - hence the proliferation of mills, many of which remain to this day.