This gouache is related to a painting that Magritte executed in 1951, also titled La Folie Almayer (Sylvester, no. 759). The image is that of a cracked feudal tower whose roots anchor it in thin air; the artist has juxtaposed in this picture notions of permanence, decay and the fragility of existence. When Magritte asked his friends to supply "a title of genius," either Louis Scutenaire or Paul Nougé suggested the title of Joseph Conrad's first novel, Almayer's Folly, which was published in 1895.
Sylvester has noted that while the inscription and date on the reverse are in the artist's hand, the signature on the front resembles the handwriting of Georgette Magritte, the artist's wife, who may have added it after the artist's death (op. cit., p. 137, under entry no. 1322).