The present watercolour is part of a series of self-portraits which Alt executed during many of the Christmas days in the 1890s. The one drawn in 1890 is in the Historische Museum, Viennadt, and the one of 1897 can be found in the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, Munich, W. Koschatzky, Rudolf von Alt 1812-1905, Die schönsten Aquarelle aus den acht Jahrzehnten seines Schaffens, exhib. cat., Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna, 1984, nos. 243, 263, illustrated. Von Alt exectuted the same day as the present drawing a watercolour of the Equipage des Herzogs von Nassau now in the Historished Museum, Vienna, Koschatzky, op. cit., no. 261, illustrated.
Despite the onset of old age the artist nonetheless continued to work steadily, albeit more slowly and would often observe his own predicament with humour: 'Mir geht es elend. Ich kann nicht gehen, unter heftigen Schmerzen tu ich arbeiten, kurz, ich bin der leibhaftige Elendsgletscher, nur mit dem Unterschied, daß der Schnee auf meinem Gipfel trotz Sonnenhitze nicht schmilzt', Koschatzky, op. cit., p. 161
In 1898 the avant-garde Secessionist group opened their first exhibition and recent watercolours by Alt were exhibited to great acclaim. During the same year the artist was invited to lay the first ceremonial corner-stone for the Secessionist building designed by Joseph Maria Olbrich and was lauded by a younger generation of artists as a genius and visionary.