Wanda de Guébriant has confirmed the authenticity of this drawing.
Matisse employed rubbed charcoal or pencil for many of the drawings that he executed in Nice in conjunction with his odalisques through the mid-1920s, while he worked less frequently in pen and ink. The artist usually shaded or partially hatched these drawings to express a fuller, more sculptural sense of volume and modeled form. In the later 1920s, however, Matisse turned increasingly to making line drawings in pen and India ink. John Elderfield observed: "Compared to the ink drawing of the early 1920s, the new ink drawings tend, by and large to eschew shading. Line alone gives weight to figures and participates in the ornamentation provided by the similarly arabesque treatment of the setting. The sheet is often filled out right to the edges to form a single patterned unit within which the identities of the figures are obscured. In drawings of this kind, the decorative function of the figure subsumes its human identity" (in The Drawings of Henri Matisse, exh. cat., The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1984, p. 91).
These new developments are fully apparent in Nu allongé ornamental. This is an especially attractive and successful drawing--the nude is comely, and the composition is well balanced, incorporating a varied panoply of still-life objects and decorative motifs that effectively evoke the languorous, orientalist character of Matisse's Nice paintings. Such success may not always be taken for granted in Matisse's pen and ink drawings, for the reason that such drawings were prone to mishaps in handling that could not be corrected. At the same time it was important for the artist to put caution aside in order to project freshness and spontaneity. Matisse compared himself to a "dancer or tightrope walker" when drawing in pen and ink. He wrote in 1939: "My line drawing is the purest and most direct translation of my emotion" (from "Notes of a Painter on his Drawing," in J. Flam, ed., Matisse on Art, Berkeley, 1995, pp. 130-131).