The gold background is of a later date. According to art historian John Rowlands, "Although this drawing has been enlarged on all sides and heavily reworked, enough of it still shows to allow the assumption that the original work was executed by Holbein. The inscription, although late in date, evidently records an earlier one, of which slight traces remain. There is no evidence to suggest that Holbein ever executed a painted portrait based on this drawing". Painted versions of the drawing by other hands exist, including one by Lucas Horenbout
, in which the left-handed Holbein is holding a paintbrush. Art historian Stephanie Buck notes that Holbein's direct gaze suggests he was looking into a mirror. Holbein died not long after completing this self-portrait, probably of the plague.