Henri Timmermans' fascinating depiction of a festival stands out within his oeuvre as a seemingly light-hearted painting. Yet, on closer inspection, there lies beneath the surface a more profound social comment. The festival is not simply a depiction of happy and innocent children unified in a scene of festivity, but more a picture of disharmony and fragmentation within society.
The painting is divided into two halves by the balcony. Standing on the balcony are children in national costume; a Scottish boy stands to the left of the pillar reaching out towards a girl in Spanish costume while a girl in Chinese costume is pouring out a bag of confetti onto the people below. The happy children on the balcony are contrasted with the children standing below, most of whom are in peasant costume. While in good spirits they may be, it is these poorer figures that seem more united: they touch and hold hands standing shoulder to shoulder. Perfectly capturing the festival atmosphere, confetti and streamers fill the air falling upon the beautifully painted children's costumes. It is the artist's interesting use of composition and his ability to capture the various emotions of this festival, which make this picture so successful and open to interpretation. It is an excellent example of a work that successfully combines the late 19th Century Belgian tradition of Realism and Symbolism.