The subject is clearly the approach of death, and the setting would appear from the inscription to be an English pub. Kokoschka lived in England from 1938-46, becoming a British citizen, and visited the country regularly thereafter. The ritual calling of time in British public houses at the legal closing hour, must have struck him as an apt metaphor for the final summons of death, all the more striking for its association with preceding wordly pleasure. He may even have known Samuel Johnson's celebrated remark that 'There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn.' The pub, then, becomes the metaphor for this world. A figure, possibly Death or Time, is holding open the door, but the artist seems to be refusing to go, staring intently upwards, perhaps in appeal towards the source of the words, among them 'time' heavily emphasised, which are painted in such a way as to appear floating in space, suggesting that they have only just been uttered. His hand gestures backwards as if to say 'just one more?' The vigorous paint handling, bright colours and intensity of facial expression make this painting a particularly moving example of Kokoschka's late work, akin in its mixture of animation and desperation to the late work of Picasso.
Simon Wilson, Tate Gallery: An Illustrated Companion, Tate Gallery, London, revised edition 1991, p.208