Many will probably consider this self-portrait of Henry Heerup somewhat different from his more well-known paintings. It is an early work, made in 1924, showing the young artist himself and furthermore demonstrating his skills in the modulation of light and shadow. Color wise, he is inspired by the old masters of painting - Rembrandt being his favorite. It is the first portrait Heerup painted. That same year, he painted "Ulvedalsegen", which he always referred to as his first painting, marking in his own eyes his coming of age as a painter.
In this self-portrait, a 17 year-old man thoughtfully contemplates both the world outside of the painting and not least himself in the mirror. He is neatly dressed in a suit and tie, clothed in a smock similar to the one i.e. the Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen wore. Perhaps Heerup was aware that artists used to portray themselves in their Sunday best. Only in the 20th century, have artists begun to display more private sides of themselves - bare feet for instance or dressed in worn or paint stained clothes.
In his hand Heerup holds a pencil and a drawing board as to tell us that aged 17 he is fully aware of his skills and ambitions as an artist. Just a few years later, In 1927, Heerup is enrolled at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. In the years leading up to his enrolment his mother, Sera, helped him obtain various apprenticeships in the fields of lithographic printing, sign writing and bronze casting.