Jan Toorop studied in The Hague, Amsterdam and Paris, among other places, and was among the renewers of Dutch painting around 1900. He was a part of progressive circles of artists with an affinity to art nouveau, symbolism and the impressionist movement of pointillism. Together with Piet Mondrian, he was among the most important protagonists of the latter style, which was known as Luminism in Holland and is characterised by the decomposition of hues into individual lines of colour and an intensified impression of flickering light.
From 1903 to 1922 Toorop travelled regularly to the seaside resort of Domburg and the surrounding area on the island of Walcheren in the province of Zeeland, and he founded the artists’ colony of Domburg there. In the nearby town of Westkapelle, in 1910, he created this painting of a wanderer carrying a heavy pack as he walks along the sea dike, casting a bold shadow among the starkly contrasting gradations of light. In the distance we can identify schematic images of a steamer, a church tower and a pair of figures who seem to be at work in the field. In a manner equivalent to the clear tectonic articulation of the landscape that develops outward from the contours of the path, Toorop applies the paint in separate brushstrokes which are placed next to and on top of one another and are meant to correspond to individual visual impressions while investing the different surfaces of the pictorial elements with a distinctly ornamental texture.