Self Portrait at the Easel, 1888 by Van Gogh

During his time in Paris Van Gogh pointed 22 self portraits and continued to point his portrait after his move to the south of France. The number of self portraits that he mode has drown comparisons with Rembrandt, but the difference being that Van Gogh's multiple self images were produced in the tiny time frame of just five years. Quite apart from the quantity, the expressiveness of these images and the disparity between different ones is of particular note. His physical image alters dramatically during the course of his depictions, which in part was reflective of his poor health. His altering images also convey the deeper metaphysical projections of the artist who was suffering with serious mental anxieties.

This painting was done shortly before he left Paris and during a particularly difficult time for Van Gogh. His relationship with his brother Theo was under considerable strain, caused in great part through Van Gogh's irascible nature. The brothers had shared accommodation for two years, on top of which Van Gogh was reliant on Theo's financial aid, a fact that undermined the artist's sense of self-worth and exasperated his already fragile balance of normality.