This powerful picture conveys greater intensity of emotion than is commonly found in Opie's numerous self portraits.
The artist looks deep into his own soul.
Opie was determined that when he became Professor of Painting at the Royal Academy he would deliver the required series of lectures with such style that he would sweep away the irritating reputation of being without education.
He became so obsessed with the lectures that he lost sleep, lost work and lost contact with friends. His wife was anxious for his health but he was determined to achieve excellence. This late self portrait reflects that intolerable combination of determination, confidence, overwork and anxiety that drove him through the winter of 1806/ 1807.