Many jokes have a grain of truth in them. Here the artist, whose works have so far failed to impress his patron, looks on patiently as the connoisseur peers into a mirror seemingly unaware that he is looking at himself, albeit with grim discernment, and not a portrait.
When I sell a painting, buyers occasionally explain to me the reason for their purchase. Often in the painting they find some sort of resonance in their lives connected to a happy memory, a holiday, a party, a honeymoon, an exciting incident. So, as you can imagine, pictures of sailing boats and beach scenes sell well but still lifes of herrings less so. Most people do not mind an accurate portrait of themselves or their loved ones which conveys their more attractive characteristics. So far I have had no model as delightfully disgruntled as Searle’s patron.