This painting is closely related to a self-portrait etching made by Rembrandt in the previous year, 1639. In both the print and the painting the composition is influenced by Raphael's 'Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione' (Paris, Louvre), by Titian's 'Portrait of a Man' in the National Gallery and by Albrecht Dürer's 'Self Portrait' of 1498 (Madrid, Prado).
This portrait shows Rembrandt at the height of his career, presenting himself in a self-assured pose wearing an elaborate costume in the fashion of the 16th century. It seems as if Rembrandt refers deliberately to his famous predecessors in this portrait, and thus places himself in the tradition of great 'Old Masters'. The word 'conterfeycel' (more properly conterfeytsel) is an archaic Dutch term for portrait.