This double portrait is a striking reflection of the real-life relationship between mother and son. The woman dominates the foreground defending the slight figure of her twenty-seven-year old son behind the large portfolio. Coburn's memoir, written at the end of his life, presents us with a text for the photograph: 'My mother was a remarkable woman of very strong character, who tried to dominate my life. To this I had serious objections, so I retired into my own hidden self and there built up my defences. Yet in her own way she loved me deeply'.