The tilt of the head and concentrated expression of the eyes suggest that the artist has portrayed himself looking in a mirror or at the easel on which he is painting. Of the numerous self-portraits
that Goya made during the course of his life, this painting, made when he was 69 years old, is perhaps the most intimate, with the exception of the likeness on his sick bed, frail and suffering, made
five years later. A Self-portrait in the Prado, signed and bearing the same date (discovered during recent cleaning), is similar in style and general appearance but there are slight variations in the
pose and costume and in the expression of the face, which seems to reflect a more melancholy mood.
The portrait remained in Goya's possession until his death, when it passed to his son. He presented it to the Academy in 1829 when the debt for the equestrian portrait of Ferdinand VII, commissioned by the Academy and painted by Goya in 1808, was finally liquidated. Because of the unusual position of the head it was once suggested that this was a sketch for the Self-portrait with Dr Arrieta but the direction of the head is different and this is the face of a 69-year-old, looking weary perhaps but with no sign of the ravages of illness that were to transform it.