The subject is taken from Kings II, chapter 9, verses 30-37. Jezebel was the wife of King Ahab of Israel, and a worshipper of Baal. Jehu, who had led an uprising of the believers in God, came to the capital, Jezreel, where Jezebel presented herself having 'painted her eyes and dressed her hair'. Jehu ordered her to be thrown to her death from the balcony, fulfilling a prophecy of Elijah.
A pupil of Johann Sichelbein and Johann Schönfeld, by whose style he was profoundly influenced, Johann Heiss began his career in the service of the Duke of Württemberg. He settled in Augsburg, where his fondness for erudite subjects and painstaking treatment of realistic detail suggest a connection with the city's Kunstakademie. His style is reminiscent of the Italian followers of Poussin (see G. Adriani, Deutsche Malerei im 17. Jahrhundert, 1977, p. 74, pl. 61) and his allegories, mythological scenes and historical paintings were greatly prized among his contemporaries.