Wanda de Guébriant has confirmed the authenticity of this drawing.
The present lot was executed in conjunction with one of Matisse's earliest sculptural achievements, Madeleine I. Conceived in 1901, Madeleine I was Matisse's first sculpture of a female subject and alongside its male counterpart, The Serf of 1900-1903, and a later variant of the same subject, Madeleine II, one of his first major explorations of three dimensional form. As Oliver Shell has observed: "Where The Serf is stable, immobile in pose, and constructed in terms of lumpy architectural units, Madeleine I sways with a dynamic, unified spiral rhythm. Her surfaces are smooth, and there is little sign of the sort of editing with a sculptor's knife that is so evident in The Serf. Madeleine I, with its exaggerated contrapposto stance, recalling Michelangelo's Dying Slave, constitutes one of the earliest expression's of Matisse's lifelong interest in the unifying form of the arabesque or serpentine" (in "Seeing Figures: Exhibition and Vision in Matisse's Sculpture," op. cit., exh. cat., Baltimore Museum of Art, p. 51).
Matisse has observed that he often used the graphic medium to simplify problems of form and invest them with greater visual immediacy. Such is the case in the present drawing; the dynamic twisting of the figure is conveyed very minimally through a slight arc from the figure's bent hind leg to her upturned head. As in the sculpture, the left leg remains very straight and the arms cross, static perpendicular axes to the hips and chignon hair that veer torwards each other. The dark velvety texture of the charcoal line translates the smooth surface characteristic of the earlier Madeleine sculpture, which would become more rugged and aggressively contoured in the second version.