It is the intensity of this portrait which makes it so memorable, as after all this artist produced endless self-portraits during his lifetime, in a wide variety of different mediums. This sketch is incomplete, focusing purely on his own facial features and leaving the rest of the composition as merely a set of faint lines in order to plan the overall composition. This drawing reminds us of several equally-intensive self portraits completed by Gustave Courbet.
This artwork made use of brush with grey wash on paper but is classed as a drawing rather than a painting. It is loosely dated at between 1795-1797 and was at around the time that the artist was starting to reach the peak of his powers, although he continued onwards for many decades from this point onwards. This piece is sized at 15cm long by 9cm wide as it most likely to have come from one of his many sketchbooks, that were later separated into individual works by the artist's son, Xavier.
It is likely that the intensity delivered in this self portrait was caused by the deafness of the artist, which would have reduced his access to external elements and heightened his own internal thoughts. The artist was famous for capturing the psychological inner workings of the mind in a visible state on the canvas or paper of his art and this talent is rare and something which remains much loved, well beyond just his native Spain. This type of genre is like no other in enabling us to understand more about an artist's mentality and also the way in which they viewed themselves.