The man is taking a hold of the woman possessively, his finger caressing her cheek tenderly. Her stiff body is withdrawing from his attention, her gaze is averted and yet she is letting him persist. Nolde dedicated several of his couple paintings to the battle of the sexes. He is leaving the situation open. The painting is concerned with the ambiguity of feelings and their expressions, love and longing, affection and rejection. The exotic traits of the figures can be traced to his travels in the South Seas, just before the First World War broke out.