Wanda de Guébriant will issue a certificate of authenticity to the purchaser of this work, upon request, after the sale.
Nu debout dates from the extraordinary surge of creativity and artistic output that Matisse experienced in the late 1940s. Whilst working on the Vence Chapel in 1949, he turned to charcoal to execute some of his greatest drawings, including the four studies for the Entombment intended for the Chapel decorations (Musée Matisse, Nice). The present work dates from the same year, but in contrast to the ailing, reclining masculine body at the heart of the Entombment series, this Nu debout is one of the last estompe drawings the artist executed on his favoured subject, the feminine nude.
The angularity and strong charcoal lines of Nu debout relate it to the hard, straight cuts of a knife and a three-dimensionality inherent in sculpture. The model's body, which Matisse would typically draw in free, undulanting lines highlighting her soft, feminine curves, is here sharpened and contorted. The figure's buttocks are jutting, and her waist is marked by a straight line rather than a natural curve. The subject and sculptural quality evoke one of the artist's greatest sculptural achievements, the Nus de dos I-IV, which were executed in widely spaced intervals between 1908 and 1931; apart from a London exhibition in 1913 casts were first exhibited in Paris and Lausanne in 1949, the same year that this drawing was executed, and may have inspired a return to the subject in the present work.
The shadows of a slightly different composition alongside the figure are a further indication of the artist's working method, in which he revisited and developed his subjects over time and even within the same work. In Matisse's estompes, the artist multiplied 'constats', or objective views, and analyses of his subject in a series of pencil, charcoal and oils, altering angles, perspectives and media 'to work on my subject until I have it sufficiently inside me to be able to improvise' (H. Matisse, quoted in P. Schneider, Matisse, London, 1984, p. 45).