Louisa Matthíasdóttir was in her early 20s when she painted her first self-portrait. After that a long period followed where the artist devoted herself to subjects of a completely different nature. Louise started painting life-size self-portraits in the mid-1960s, around the time when her daughter Temma went away to university; and she stopped painting them when her husband, Leland Bell, died in 1991. The artist's life-size self-portraits thus seem to hold a special significance to her. This piece is one of the last of its kind.
Jed Perl says a “giddy luminosity” emanates from these self–portraits, and adds: “Years earlier, she had knitted herself a sweater with boldly colored stripes, and she wears it in some of these paintings. This item of geometricized clothing, a kind of second skin that turns the figure into an abstraction, brings to mind other twentieth-century experiments with clothing, such as Sonia Delaunay’s designs. There’s an amusing double entendre here, in the way that the painting becomes an interpretation of a piece of clothing that is already interpretive. There’s another interpretive later as well, a sense that when Matthiasdottir makes a sweater she is aware of a strong crafts tradition in Iceland, where among the treasures of the National Museum are weavings with geometric patterns. Matthiasdottir, with her customary understatement, suggests all these meanings without ever insisting on them. She just stands before us, ramrod straight. She’s in her mid-’70s and she’s still beautiful. She still has her cool bohemian authority.” (Jed Perl: Louisa Matthíasdóttir, p. 158).