This drawing is recorded as No. Z453 in the Matisse archives, and is accompanied by a photo-certificate from Wanda de Gubriant dated Paris, 17 March 1998.
This drawing is a study for the standing female nude seen at the far left side of the oil painting Le Bonheur de vivre, 1905-1906 (coll. The Barnes Foundation, Merion, Pennsylvania), one of the monumental masterworks of Matisse's Fauve period. Although the emphasis on pure color in his canvases circa 1905 led to a breakup of traditional figurative form that was largely antithetical to the concept of drawing, Matisse nonetheless became absorbed in linear drawing while working on Le Bonheur de vivre. He drew in a rugged, espressive style, often utilizing pen and ink, which conveys the figure in a direct and rapidly observed manner. While the drawing itself is naturalistic, the evolution of this pose in the painting becomes increasingly stylized. The nervous, vibrating contours of the study are simplified to form sweeping arabesques that outline the figure against the vividly colored background. In the painting Matisse drapes the nude's body with a garland of flowers, reinforcing the idyllic classicism of the artist's conception.