The painting depicts the model Elaine Johnson. In discussing the present work Howson stated,'I was actually captivated by her as a model. She's probably the perfect model for me. I did many drawings and quite a few paintings'.
'One of them - yet again - landed Howson in the soup of controversy. He painted Elaine nude, crucified on the cross. He recognizes this was 'a pornographic, almost a blasphemous painting' - though he considers it a good one. Cardinal Winning was unimpressed by the quality, and shocked by the blasphemy, calling the work 'evil'. At the time, Howson was unmoved by the criticism. The painting was one of several nude studies of Elaine, which included erotic pieces. The painter had always been 'interested in eroticism. I suppose I needed to go through it'' (R.Heller, Peter Howson, Edinburgh, 2003, p. 150).