Van Gogh constantly improved his art. The best way to do this was to write self-portraits. He wrote to his brother that if he could learn to draw himself with sufficient accuracy, he could easily draw other people.
In most cases, drawing self-portraits, Van Gogh did not set a goal to create a serious work. Many of them are written quickly and have an incomplete character. For these exercises, Van Gogh used cheap materials. Several of these self-portraits were written on the back of etudes, several more, including this one, on ordinary cardboard.
Here Van Gogh portrayed himself in an outfit. The background
The face is executed with a much higher degree of elaboration, and when writing it Van Gogh used more traditional methods of writing. The artist tried to subtly convey the color nuances, paying attention to all shades of the skin. The main emphasis is on the eyes, carefully, tensely and concentratingly looking in the mirror. The speed of execution made it possible to create an easy and lively work, which is remarkable for its surprising purity of colors.