The Virgin is shown on her death-bed, with the twelve apostles surrounding her. Above her head is Christ with angels coming to receive her soul.
X-ray photographs show that the painting originally had a tester to the bed instead of Christ and the angels, and an arch, a window and a view of a town in the background. Two versions of this earlier design exist in Berlin (Staatliche Museen) and Prague (Narodni Galeri). They probably reflect a design made by Hugo van der Goes himself when he was planning the painting of this subject now in Bruges (Groeningemuseum).