The painting is one of the most remarkable works by the artist. On the background of the lowland landscape with a meadow and a pine forest, some unrealistic, luminous forms with shackled hands were placed in a floating cloud of dust.
The main character is frequently identified as Polonia, personification of Poland, although the woman is not anymore a beautiful vivid young woman known from other works. The specter emerges from a sandy road supported by her offspring, becoming the emanation of the nation and a reference to the fate of the enslaved homeland. Alternatively, the female figure is identified as Południca (Lady Midday), dangerous demon of the field causing heatstrokes and madness.
The landscape is monotonous and simplified almost to the limit. In the 1890s Malczewski defined his own style of landscape composition, creating a synthesis of landscape pictures based on real nature studies, intentionally remodelled to convey additional meaning, and haunted by real and otherworldly beings.
A stripe of dense trees opens to the sky only at its extreme end, like a hermetic hope in a war that, through pain and suffering, is leading to a well-deserved liberation. No more Congress Kingdom, no more vassal states under the tsarist autocracy, Poland wants independence that guarantees the democratic order. It can be also interpreted as purely eschatological perspective, the ultimate destiny of humanity or the nation.
The work was created for Count Edward Raczyński, during the artist's stay at his estate in Rogalin and inspired by local landscape. Malczewski signed and dated the work in upper right corner of the canvas Rogalin 1893 J Malczewski and inscribed on reverse with the titleW tumanie / J Malczewski 1894.
oil on canvas, 1893-1894, 78 × 150 cm (30.7 × 59.1 in), inventory number Mp 1386, on permanent display in the Hall of Polish Painting of the Rogalin Palace Gallery, Muzeum Narodowe w Poznaniu (MNP)
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