Covarrubias draws a pencil sketch of his face on a round doily. He signs the sketch in printed capital letters, "COVARRUBIAS." The sketch is framed in a rough hewn folk art like painted wooden oval frame and laid onto a gold and green painted wooden background. The sketch is rendered in lighter pencil than the darker signature. The actual drawing is sharper than the photograph shown here.
Covarrubias moved to New York on a grant from the Mexican Government in 1924. He is renown for his drawings that captured the cultural activity of the Harlem Renaissance in his book, "Negro Drawings." (1927). He was a regular illustrator on the covers for "Vanity Fair," "Vogue," and "The New Yorker," designed costumes for Josephine Baker, and generally popularized the art and cultures of the Americas and of Bali. He was interested in the ethnology of Mexican culture and posited that Mayan culture was preceded by Olmec culture, discounted at first but now known to be accurate. It is thought that his stylistic concerns drew him to study Mexican and also Balinese ethnography. Although still regarded as a caricaturist and illustrator since the majority of his output falls into these categories, Covarrubias is being reconsidered as a multidimensional Modernist working in many forms.