Lionello Venturi was the first to assign this canvas to the 1873-1875 period, a time in which the painter had close contact with Pissarro. The painting may be described as belonging to Cézanne’s Impressionist period. Its simplicity and austerity remind us of the Self-Portrait by Pissarro (1873) in the Louvre. Although Pissarro painted his Portrait of Cézanne in 1874, it would not be correct to date the Hermitage Self Portrait on the basis of the similarities of the main figures because Cézanne’s appearance remained approximately the same for many years. John Rewald assigns the picture to c. 1875.
Douglas Cooper has suggested earlier dates, 1872-1873, and states that Self-Portrait was painted before Cézanne worked with Pissarro. Cooper offers as proof of his conclusion that the entire painting was executed with a painter's knife. This would mean that Self-Portrait was painted by Cézanne in Pontoise, or more probably in Auvers, where the painter moved in early 1873.
The portrait is an outstanding example of Cézanne’s skill. It occupies a prominent place among the works of Cézanne’s earlier period, as it preserves the expressiveness of the artist’s work so evident during the years of the previous so-called Romantic period.