Wanda de Guébriant has confirmed the authenticity of this drawing.
The present drawing is closely related to the oil painting Odalisque accoudée et nature morte, which Matisse executed in his Nice studio in 1927 (Bernheim-Jeune, no. 675), one of those canvases Jack Cowart has called "the fullest realization of Matisse's thesis on pattern, decoration, and the odalisque...[they] are fantasies in the best sense of the word" (in Matisse: The Early Years in Nice 1916-1930, exh. cat., The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1987, p. 37). The model in this drawing leans back on a striped cushion placed on a Turkish rug, against a backdrop of ornamental wall-hangings, with a brazier, fruit and flowers at her feet. In the fall of 1926 Matisse moved from his third floor apartment to roomier quarters on the top floor at 1, place Charles Félix, where he set up two studio spaces for his increasingly elaborate odalisque settings.
During this time Matisse turned from shaded charcoal drawings to what would prove to become his signature style of draughtsmanship, making line drawings in pen and India ink. John Elderfield has pointed out that "In the second half of the 1920s, Matisse's drawings would seem to throw off their wistful moods to become as relaxed and hedonistic as most of his paintings were. This was accompanied and made possible by a shift from tonal charcoal drawing to line" (in The Drawings of Henri Matisse, exh. cat., The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1984, p. 91).
Matisse executed most of his ink drawings in pure, unadorned lines that trace the essential contours of the figure as well as the barest outlines of objects and decorative motifs. In some drawings, as seen here, he practiced the classic technique of an etcher, and hatched select areas to lend weight and depth to the balance of the composition. On a very few sheets he shaded the image so thoroughly that it becomes in effect a grisaille study (see Christie's sale, 6 November 2008, lot 67, from the same source). While Matisse often made hatched drawings in erasable pencil, he executed drawings of this kind in ink only occasionally, and these represent an especially focused and intensive effort on his part. The results are richly evocative. Elderfield has written:
No longer is this a "difficult," avant-garde form of draughtsmanship; rather an accessible, traditional and, technically, extraordinarily accomplished one. Luxury, calm and voluptuousness are back in control of Matisse's art...There is no need now, it seems, to make anything grand or elemental, anything abstract, in order to filter these qualities from the superficiality of sensations and gradually purify them...And Matisse opened his eyes to the world with exclamations of delight such as he had never allowed himself to utter before. The rooms in Nice were lovely; the models were beautiful; the whole scenery was "fake, absurd, terrific, delicious." Matisse often forgot that it was not real, but that he had constructed it himself. In Nice, he drew, as real, the products of a wish-fulfilling imagination (ibid., p. 75).