The present work, only recently discovered in a discreet private collection and not seen in public since it was bought from Lou Cosyn in Brussels in the mid-1940s, belongs to a series of standing nudes that Magritte painted from 1930. 'Magritte painted the female nude repeatedly. He used his wife as a model, sublimating her body, but on rare occasions he also painted her portrait....The first idealised nude, in dark tones with a cut-out background and a gun, dates from 1930 - it is a magnificent transitional work' (A. Hammacher, René Magritte, London, 1974, p. 106).
Intriguingly, when the present work is viewed in raking light it can be seen that it has been painted over an earlier composition. This may well be a second version of Bel canto of 1938 (Sylvester no. 464). In a letter of November 1939, referred to in Sylvester, Magritte mentions that he is considering painting a second version of Bel canto (René Magritte - Catalogue Raisonné. Oil Paintings and Objects 1931-1948, London, 1993, p. 270). However, no such work is known to exist today.