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This is one of the most famous self-portraits by Hayez who, from the hypnotic, arch image of himself in his Self-Portrait at the Age of Thirty-One in 1822, would often return to the subject with the aim of offering a precise idea of his personal and private dimension. The magnificent series of self-portraits that followed each other over the decades reaches its apex with the self-portrait of 1878, which was donated to the Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice soon after it was completed.

Just below his signature, Hayez allowed himself to remark that the work was painted when he was eighty-eight years old, thus adding a year to his age in order to play up his artistic longevity in an ideal comparison with Titian, who was still active into his eighties. The artist presents himself seated in his own studio brandishing a paintbrush, ensconced in a plain, almost monochromatic space, illuminated by a warm, embracing light from the left. There are no palettes or unfinished paintings; rather than bidding farewell to painting the artist seems to be proudly affirming the dignity of his profession.