The work of Jan van Tongeren is considered to be part of the new realism, a movement that also includes that of Dick Ket and Raoul Hynckes. Characteristic of the painter's work is the realistic way in which he depicts the materials: the pottery of pots, parchment book covers or a woven cloth. For the painter, the essence of such a still life lay in the placement of the objects relative to each other and the spaces between them, so that the representation could be conceived in planes and shapes. He could therefore spend days arranging the objects into a balanced composition. After 1945, colours became more and more important in his work, at the expense of realistic material expression.