Whistler enjoyed baiting the critics. He began his Ten O'Clock Lecture, a public manifesto of his artistic ideas, in London in February 1885, with a sarcastic dig at John Ruskin, the most powerful art "authority"of his time. Whistler counted on many artists to take his side but they refused fearing damage to their reputations. Besides his long libel suit against Ruskin, Whistler frequently wrote letters to daily newspapers ridiculing art critics. He believed that only artists had a right to criticize other artists' work. In 1890 he published The Gentle Art of Making Enemies a collection of writings.
This self-portrait also bears his famous signature logo, a butterfly with a scorpion's stinger for a tail.