Quirijn van Tiel began his artistic career in Rotterdam around 1920, painting in an expressionistic style influenced by the Flemish expressionism of Constant Permeke. Drawing his subject matter from Rotterdam itself and the Zeeland islands, he painted moody, empty polder landscapes beneath heavy clouds. Animals and prototypical farmers are also common motifs in his work. After 1936 Van Tiel switched to a primitive surrealistic style, producing works that almost always blend symbolism, poetry and realism. Later, influenced by Rouault, he painted heavily contoured figures. After the war, his experimentation with different styles led him to abstract expressionism and, ultimately, a geometric pictorial style.