In this heraldic composition, Drer returns to the theme of Death attempting to violate a young maiden, which he first depicted in The Ravisher. The Memento Mori was a subject repeated over and again in Germany at the time. Here the true identity of the wild hairy man, leaning lecherously over the woman's shoulder, is revealed by the coat of arms in the foreground.
The artist produced two further charcoal drawings in 1503 concerning suffering and death, a portrait of a man and a foreshortened head of Christ, their features distorted in pain and sorrow. Several strange events took place in Nuremberg during that year which may explain the artist's morbid preoccupations. A comet appeared, believed to be an omen of evil, and according to Drer, a mysterious rain of crosses fell on the city, followed by an outbreak of epidemic disease.