In the period between 1905 and 1909 Mondriaan regularly visited and worked in Twente, in the eastern part of The Netherlands. He had made acquaintance with the young painter Albert Hulshoff Pol (1883-1957) in the beginning of 1905, who invited him to his family home and with whom he would make several artistic excursions in the region. The Hulshoff Pol family had achieved success in the textile industry and lived in Hengelo. Just southeast of the small city of Hengelo, the father of Hulshoff Pol also owned a historic farmstead De Waarbeek in the countryside. This farmstead was the ideal studio for Mondriaan and Hulshoff Pol to finish the sketches and drawings they made in the surroundings of Hengelo, such as Oele, Saasveld and Delden. In this period Mondriaan produced circa fifty-five Twente-based landscapes. His most frequently treated subjects in Twente are commonly referred to as 'evening landscapes', in which he portrayed dusk or early night scenes with expressive rendering of light, a pale moonlight, and the low-angled winter sun which shines through the trees and reflects in the water.
In the summer of 1907 Mondriaan stayed in Twente again and it's very likely the present lot of the Old Mill at Oele was painted during this stay. Mondriaan was captivated by the beauty of the old mill, the marsch and the forest (fig. 2). The view depicted is the so-called Oldemeule te Oele (Old Mill at Oele), which is located on the Oelebeek in Twente near Hengelo and still exists like it is depicted in the present lot. The earliest documentation on this mill goes back to 1334, when it was owned by 'De heer op Het Hooge Huis te Oldemeulen, Joost Christoffel van Bevervoorde, the Bailiff of Twente'). During his visits to Twente, Mondriaan chose The Old Mill at Oele at least twice as subject for an oil painting. The other work depicting the mill, which was sold in these rooms on 10 December 1992 (lot 215), has a comparable size, identical mounting and similar brush technique and colouration. Both treatments of the mill were taken from downstream, as we can see from the whitish foam churned up by the water as it splashes from the wheel. Because of its more detailed representation, script signature and early sale, the present lot might be considered the more finished version of the two (see: Welsh 1998, p. 378).