A group of human figures of different sex and age amalgamate into a mass with pattern. The mass of human figures is confronted by Death who is smiling wickedly at the side. Contrasted with the dark colour palette of the Death are bright colors adopted for the human figures. Both the mass of human figures and Death are enveloped by wavy contour lines. The background was originally in gold, Klimt later painted it over in dark blue. Although patterns still proliferate the painting, the glamorous gold and silver were no longer the dominant colours. Klimt moved away from the golden decorative scheme he adopted during the Golden Period.
It is not the first time that Klimt painted the theme of life and death. He had previously painted the subject in his allegorical ceiling painting for the Vienna University. This is a rework of his previous theme.