Frederick McCubbin studied at the National Gallery of Victoria Art School under the Romantic landscape painter Eugene von Guérard and later with George Folingsby, an artist whose primary interest lay in academic figure painting. McCubbin was appointed drawing master there in 1886. This self-portrait dates from that year of his first appointment, and reflects the young artist’s pleasure in this recognition.
McCubbin was one of the key founders of the Heidelberg school of Australian Impressionism. Like Tom Roberts and Arthur Streeton, McCubbin subsequently became inspired during the 1890s to create large-scale pioneering history subjects, which are among the best known and most popularly admired Australian paintings.