According to Symbolism, the subconscious, inexplicable and unusual, and not the objective world of external appearances, is the true subject of art. In addition, symbolism also has a strong leaning towards the past. Symoblism was a reaction to naturalism, which was associated with impressionsime, and realism, in which painting should only deal with real, existing things. As the name suggests, the symbol is important within the movement. The symbol refers to the unobservable world. Symbolists therefore use personal symbols to evoke moods and emotions in this way.
Symbolism includes many different works of different styles, but the common themes are dreams, visions, mystical experiences, occultism, eroticism and the perverse. Colors were used more consciously to express emotion. Symbolism originated in France, but soon symoblism started to spread internationally. In the Netherlands Jan Toorop was a well-known symbolist.