The ideas for this painting began in 1850 when Watts formulated a plan to paint a series of murals representing 'the progress of the cosmos'. There are several versions of the subject, of which this is the most fully resolved. Watts charts a path of evolution moving from left to right. Primeval confusion is shown by the giants struggling to release themselves from fire and vapour. The physical elements become increasingly differentiated towards the consolidation of matter and the establishment of measurable time and space on the right. This is signalled by the chain of female figures beneath the giants.