Ever since the sixteenth century, windmills as picturesque subjects have been a characteristic element of Dutch landscape painting; even in the day of Piet Mondrian they still played an important role. The Oostzijdse Mill, for instance, was only built in 1874 on the bank of the river Gein where it served to drain the polder. Hence, this mill also stood for an essential aspect of the Netherlands: the habitable land wrested from the sea.
In a series of twenty paintings Mondrian elevated the Oostzijdse Mill as a central subject. In the canvas painted around 1902 and 1903 it is seen from a distance from the opposite bank of the Gein. The horizontal composition emphasises the flatness of the landscape, with only the mill towering high. The colouring of the meadow sections is limited to earthy tones, while the water and the sky are rendered in a variety of grey shades. The paint has been applied in vigorous brushstrokes without attention to detail.
Based on the avant-gardist trends after 1900, Mondrian would later radically abandon the depiction of natural phenomena and, instead, develop a visionary language of abstract forms. In this painting, though, Mondrian is still at the beginning of his artistic development: A realistic plein-air painter in the tradition of the Hague School.