Apart from occassions in his early career, Picasso (unlike Henri Matisse) did not employ professional models. A passionate emotional attachment was virtually a prerequisite for Picasso before he painted a female model, and Picasso's female subject is almost always the woman in his life at the time. Jacqueline Roque had filled the dual role of lover and muse since 1954, and they were married in 1961, when the artist was almost eighty years old. During this late Indian summer in Picasso's career, all poses, costumes and accessories existed purely in the mind of the artist, and could be retrieved at will to suit whatever mood possessed him at the moment. "Picasso never paints from life: Jacqueline never poses for him: but she is there always, everywhere. All the women of these years are Jacqueline, and they are rarely portraits. The image of the woman he loves is model imprinted deep within him, and it emerges every time he paints a woman" (M.-L. Bernadac, "Picasso 1953-1972: Painting as Model," Late Picasso, exh. cat., The Tate Gallery, London, 1988, p. 78).
The artist and model theme enabled the artist to reprise events and emotions from the entire course of his long career, and to summon up past periods and painters from the history of European art. In the present drawing, done at the age of almost ninety, Picasso depicts himself in his favorite role as the bewigged Baroque painter and cavalier. He bestows upon himself the features he once possessed as a young man, showing off his solid jaw, wide nose and his large penetrating eyes.