Francesco Hayez depicts himself with his friends: on the left the painters Pelagio Palagi and Giovanni Migliara (in profile); on the right the painter Giuseppe Molteni (in a top hat) and the writer Tommaso Grossi. Hayez is wearing a painter’s cap and round glasses. The image is intriguing: he appears unassuming and at the same time ironic and pleased.
The unfinished background, merges with the materials of their garments and unites the figures: friendship and belonging are perhaps the true themes of the painting, almost a manifesto of the Romantic Milan.
This self-portrait, actually a group portrait, has been viewed as the equivalent in painting of Il Brindisi (“The Toast”), a dialect poem by Tommaso Grossi. He recited it in 1824 at a dinner organized to celebrate the recovery of Hayez from a long illness. The date 1827, at the bottom left, is not autograph and the picture may have been painted at a date closer to the banquet