The Comité René Magritte has confirmed the authenticity of this drawing.
While the present drawing does not have an exact pictorial equivalent in any of Magritte's oil paintings or gouaches, the imagery appears to meld themes explored by the artist in two series of pictures: La belle de nuit, and La leçon des ténèbres.
Magritte first used the image of the torso in La belle de nuit, an oil of 1932 (Sylvester, no. 346), which depicts the sculpture next to a window opening onto a pitch-black night. Life casts of torsos such as this were commonly used at art schools well into the 20th century, and Magritte may well have already owned one at this time. The painting relates closely to a short prose poem of the same title by Magritte's friend Paul Nougé. In both works, a woman's body is portrayed as an immense and powerful presence. However, as was often the case within Magritte's circle, it is unclear whether the painting inspired the poem, or vice-versa.
Magritte first used the title La leçon des ténèbres for an oil painting of 1954 (Sylvester, no. 811). In this work Matisse depicts, in reverse, the same stone masonry interior with an open window. However, in place of the torso rests a bowl of apples, and the window opens onto a verdant landscape rather than a seascape. The present drawing relates even more closely to a variant gouache of the same title from 1964 (Sylvester, no. 1549), in which the window is arched.
In 1957 Magritte wrote an explanation of the imagery of La leçon des ténèbres: "The image shows that the enjoyment of the light and enjoyment of the dark are of equal value. It applies the means used for a technical study of darkness and light, but whereas in a study, the means -acquiring the means - is the aim, in the case of 'Lesson from the Tenebrae' the means were already at the painter's disposal. De facto, it is darkness and light. De jure, it is pleasure." (quoted in Sylvester, vol. III, p. 234).