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.


  • Title: The New Generation
  • Creator Lifespan: 1858 - 1928
  • Creator Nationality: Indo (Javanese Dutch)
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: The Hague, the Netherlands
  • Creator Birth Place: Poerworedjo, Java, Dutch East Indies
  • Date Created: 1892
  • Style/Theme: Symbolism / Landscape
  • Physical Dimensions: w1100 x h9650 cm (Without frame)
  • Painter: Jan Toorop
  • Original Title: De nieuwe generatie
  • Artist Information: Jan Toorop spent his youth on Java. In 1892 he moved to the Netherlands. He following a course in drawing at the Polytechnic School in Delft (1876-1879) and then studied at the National Academy of Visual Arts in Amsterdam (1880-1882) and the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs in Brussels (1882-1885). In Brussels he became involved from 1884 onwards with the artist group Les XX. Toorop was susceptible to influences; the enormous variety in forms of expression and techniques demonstrates this. After 1890, he developed via realism, impressionism and post-impressionism in the direction of symbolism. For this, he made use of literary and musical sources and distant cultures. In his somewhat incomprehensible symbolism, the image of the woman played an important role. His drawings and lithographs are characterised by the flowing lines of the Art Nouveau. In 1905 he converted to Catholicism, and he subsequently painted almost exclusively religious subjects and portraits in a somewhat more geometric style.
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Acquired 1949, http://collectie.boijmans.nl/en/disclaimer/
  • External Link: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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