This oil painting depicts a black man and woman beset by three mastiff dogs in a marshy landscape. On the right side of the painting are two human figures who face left across the painting to the dogs.The man stands in a half-crouch between the dogs and the woman, wielding a hatchet in his upraised right hand. Dangling from his clenched left wrist is a pair of manacles, with one cuff broken open. He wears a pair of faintly patterned brown trousers to mid-thigh, and has a red sash around his waist. His body has numerous scars and a round brand or tattoo on his left shoulder. The woman is half-crouched behind him knees bent, both arms raised to shoulder height, palms faced outward as she peers over the man's shoulder. She wears a sleeveless, loosely draped soiled white top, and a brown striped skirt tucked above her knees. Her hair is drawn back and she has small hoop earrings. The dogs are on the left side of the painting, with one of the dogs lying wounded between the two groups of figures. The scene takes place in an area of trampled tall grass with grey water in the background and a livid red horizon. In the bottom right corner there is a striped snake twining up a mossy dead log.