Maxwell Armfield was one of the most outstanding pupils at the Birmingham School of Art and is unusual in having deliberately chosen to study at Birmingham because of its growing reputation. He enrolled at the school in 1899 and his unpublished manuscript, 'My Approach to Art' gives an account of his experiences there:
'Apart from invaluable benefit from guidance and advice from such masters as Henry Payne, Arthur Gaskin and Joseph Southall, I really taught myself, as must any one who hopes to do individual work... I detested the Life Class, and rarely attended it: I refused to learn perspective or anatomy as they bored me, and generally, I could not have been a worse student.'
Armfield's individual style is evident in this 'Self Portrait' which combines Arts and Crafts, Aesthetic and Symbolist elements.