Rediscovered and subsequently acquired by the present owner from a Belfast antique shop in 1962, where it was erroneously labelled as Portraits of William III and Queen Mary, the present pair of pictures was painted in 1706, the year of Schalcken's death.
The artist has depicted himself proudly holding a medallion of the Elector Palatine Johann Wilhelm (reigned 1690-1716), whose patronage at Dsseldorf Schalcken enjoyed in the early years of the eighteenth century. Schalcken is recorded in Dsseldorf in 1703 but contact between him and the Elector had been established earlier. Heinrich von Wiser, ambassador palatinate at The Hague wrote to Johann Wilhelm in December 1702: 'Der berhembte Schalck (sic) fr das beste halltet, so er sein Lebtag gemacht ... er fordert dafr 1000 holl. fl. Und wie E. Ch. D. ihne wohl kennen, wrdt er davon nicht vil nachlassen' (see Levin, Jahrbuch der Dsseldorfer Gesichtsvereins, XXIII, 1910, p. 34). In his 1778 catalogue of the Dsseldorf Galerie, Pigage notes that 'L'Electeur Jean Guillaume avait cet artiste en grande considération'.
As well as employing the services of Schalcken, Johann Wilhelm also patronized Rachel Ruysch, Jan Weenix, Eglon van der Neer and Adriaen van der Werff - whose self-portrait of 1699, with the sitter wearing a similar medallion, is now in the Rijksmuseum, no. 2626.
Of the dozen or so recorded self-portraits by Schalcken, this is the latest in date. Schalcken's wife, Franoise van Diemen, was from Breda; another picture of her, also painted as a pendant to a self-portrait, is in the collection of the Prince of Liechtenstein, in Vaduz. She was also used as model in several of Schalcken's genre paintings.