Jan Toorop was one of the leading modern artists around the turn of the nineteenth century, both in the Netherlands and abroad. He was receptive to new ideas and assimilated the latest styles in his own fashion. This makes it possible to distinguish different periods in his oeuvre. The 1890s were Toorop’s Symbolist period. He developed a style characterized by elegantly sinuous parallel lines, known as his ‘salad oil style’, in reference to a famous advertising poster he designed for that product. Most of his works from those years are relatively sombre in tone. They are enigmatic pictures pervaded with symbolic details. Here, the child stands for a new generation. Toorop portrayed his little daughter Charley, who was born in 1891. She forms a radiant focal point in the centre of a mysterious garden overrun with foliage and gnarled roots. A dragon-like serpent can be seen on the right, just beneath a sculpture of the Buddha. In the doorway on the left, behind a dilapidated wall, is a wraith-like female figure, which is believed to represent Toorop’s wife. Toorop himself is said to be portrayed in the large weeping willow behind the child. A telegraph pole and railway tracks allude to the new era. The painting evokes a fairytale world in which the past and the future are united.