The present work exemplifies Matisse's line drawings, an approach the artist championed as perhaps his most powerful. Portrait de Femme corresponds with Matisse's renewed interest in broadly-rendered ink drawings, which was not a part of his oeuvre between his Fauve period and the early 1940s. These works equaled his charcoal drawings of the same period and were particular favorites of Matisse. He writes, "my line drawing is the purest and most direct translation of my emotion. The simplification of the medium allows for that" (John Elderfield, The Drawings of Matisse, London, 1984, p. 15).
Executed near the end of his life, Portrait de Femme simply and elegantly depicts the outline of the human form through exclusive use of the contour line. The work is closely related to Matisse's brush-drawings of the late 1940s that were reminiscent of the ancient art of calligraphy and possessed a refined sense of overall design. Pierre Schneider finds Matisse's late drawings as impressive as Matisse's most well-known works, noting, "these large dazzling black and white sheets of paper are Matisse's last paintings" (Pierre Schneider, Matisse, New York, 1984, p. 652-54).