During Sonsbeek '49: Europese Beeldhouwkunst in de Open Lucht (European Sculpture in the Open Air), the memories of the horrors of the Second World War were still very fresh in people’s minds. The physical traces of the war were also still present in Arnhem’s urban landscape, which had been badly damaged by the bombings. Sonsbeek '49 was primarily intended for the mental recovery of Arnhem’s residents. The exhibition exceeded all expectations, and about 125,000 people visited the park.
The reconstruction period in the Netherlands was accompanied by a boom in municipal commissions for war memorials. The demand for monuments was also reflected during Sonsbeek '49, where quite a few of the 199 sculptures that were exhibited served as monuments. A jury composed of members of the Nederlandse Kring van Beeldhouwers (Dutch Society of Sculptors) decided which sculptures would be selected, so it is not surprising that about three quarters of the artists came from the Netherlands. Other artists came from countries including Belgium, France, Denmark, Austria, and Switzerland