|This imposing self-portrait exudes an air of confidence and authority which owed much to Joshua Reynolds’ position as President of the Royal Academy. Although there were no official Royal Academy robes Reynolds chooses to depict himself in the academic dress of a Doctor of Civil Law, an honorary degree conferred upon him by the University of Oxford in 1773.|
Reynolds pays tribute to two artistic heroes in this work. Michelangelo, a constant source of inspiration, is present in the form of a bust by Daniele da Volterra, a cast of which Reynolds owned. His homage to Rembrandt is equally evident in the broadly conceived composition and the use of light to unify it.