Painted circa 1917, the present work reprises an earlier painting (WV no. 2415) executed during the artist's second trip to Africa in 1905. Although similar from a composition point of view, Two Lions at Watch is larger in size and, narrowing down its focus on the two lions, it presents them as the true protagonists within the African landscape.
Following the example of Germany’s celebrated animal painter Richard Friese, who advocated the study of wild animals in their native habitats, Wilhelm Kuhnert first travelled to East Africa in 1891. The demand for his impressive depictions of African wildlife led Kuhnert to return to the German and English colonial territories of East and South Africa on safari in 1905 and 1911-12. Of all of Kuhnert’s animal subjects, lions were a particular favorite and his deep connection with the animal earned him the nickname 'Lion-Kuhnert'.