Hans Thoma painted this self-portrait in the year of his 60th birthday. As with other self-portraits, he shows himself as a half-figure in strict frontality, with his hand resting on a walking stick, that might be seen as a symbol for the path travelled in life. The striking background can also be read symbolically. The birch trunks, highlighted by a glowing sky, flicker like flames above the artist’s head. For the deeply religious Thoma, the unusual glow may have been a reference to the universally divine of all things. Thoma presents himself here as an aged artist with unabated creative power. His inward-looking, visionary gaze underlines the source of his pictorial inventions, the topic of which, at least in his later works, revolved mostly around the existential themes of human life between birth and death.