A photo-certificate from the artist dated 24 September 1952 accompanies this drawing.
By the mid-1930s Matisse had developed a simple daily routine in his studio: he would paint in the morning, and draw in the afternoon. His paintings combined both disciplines; they are characterized by flat areas of color which are outlined with drawing on top. Nevertheless, Matisse realized that painting and drawing had become separate activities, each a process unto itself, contributing in different ways to a synthesis. In an effort to more closely integrate his use of color and line, Matisse turned to making drawings in shaded charcoal, in which line coalesces from the modeling in the shaded forms.
Matisse had last concentrated on shaded drawings in the mid-1920s; his odalisques of this period have a ripe, sensuous, classical fullness which is rendered in a broad range of half-tones. In the shaded drawings of the late 1930s and 1940s, Matisse takes a more structural approach to the figure. Contours emerge from a haze of rubbed lines. Shading may or may not conform to traditional, naturalistic modeling or chiaroscuro; Matisse's sole purpose is to evoke weight and balance of form. Indeed, his new manner recalls the draughtsmanship of two earlier masters: Rodin, in whose late manner multiple contours and pentimenti cause the figure to oscillate on the page; and Czanne, whose drawing addresses structural and volumetric concerns.
While Matisse is best-known for his line drawings, which reflect the more popular and decorative aspect of his art, his shaded charcoal drawings have a concentration and intensity that make each a powerful statement. The line drawings, on the other hand, may be viewed individually as examples of a type, and it is no coincidence that the linear element predominated in his Themes and Variations series of 1941-1942.
"We know that Matisse most prized works in pure, uncorrected line. It is certainly arguable, however, that witnessing the struggle to achieve purification is more rewarding an experience than sight of the chaste result. The sublimity of Matisse's charcoal drawings, in which he searches and erases, and rubs down the forms, only to draw them again and again, tends certainly to support that proposition. In each of these works, a true picture of creation, and superimposed, of its realization, is revealed.
And these are such different creations -- or, rather, such different versions of creation. For, viewed together, they suggest that same body turned over to reveal opposing versions of itself."
(J. Elderfield, The Drawings of Henri Matisse, exh. cat., The Arts Council of Great Britian, London, 1984, p. 119).