Juan Cordero showed his talent and liking for drawing from an early age, traveling to Europe at his own expense in 1844 to study art. Despite the artist's prosperous appearance in his self-portrait, his economic resources were quite limited. Fortunately, he later won the scholarship that the Academy of San Carlos in México granted so as to allow the recipient to study at Saint Lukes Academy and the Scuola Libera del Nudo (Free School of Nude Painting) in Rome. In this work, an apparently well-to-do gentleman is depicted from the waist up. Certain touches of light carefully and precisely applied around the subject's head and hands by the artist allude to his creative potential. This self-portrait shows us a painter who sees himself in romantic terms -i.e. as a genius endowed with great skill and full of creative inspiration, whose gifts vouchsafe him a privileged place in society. Looking straight at the viewer, the strong character here portrayed has a touch of arrogance and Juan Cordero did, indeed, feel that his talent merited public recognition and was so ambitious that, in 1854, he rejected the offer of the post of deputy director that was made to him by the San Carlos Academy, deeming it to fall short of his expectations. Though supported by a certain sector of the society of the day, he was never appointed director. This painting formed part of an important group of works that the artist sent to the aforesaid Academy in fulfillment of his obligations as a scholarship student in Rome. It was acquired by the Mexican National Fine Arts Institute from Mrs. Ma. Elena Cordero de Magaña in 1974, passing to the MUNAL as part of the latter's founding endowment in 1982.