Painted at the same time as one of Davie's greatest paintings of the mid 1960s, Improvisation on a Chagall Theme no. 4, Ankh for Serpents hasa similiar handling of paint, ranging from control to looseness, and careful drawing to chance drips. It also has the characteristic heightened colour of this period and spatially shares with the Chagall painting suggestions of interior as well as exterior space.
Ankh for Serpents is also typical in its combination of intense strong colour and its use of symbols, sharing these with another related painting Wheel for the Little Dragon (June 1965 - March 1967). Among these symbols the serpent has appeared throughout Davie's long career, whilst images of crosses and of the ankh are also recurrent.
In the present work the central motif also relates back to one of Davie's major works of the beginning of the decade Entrance for a Red temple no.1 of June 1960 in the collection of the Tate Gallery.