Francis Steegmuller met Georges Braque in June 1961 while working on the biography Apollinaire: Poet Among the Painters,
published in 1963. He wrote to Douglas Cooper on June 14, 1961: "I saw Braque in Paris. He was courteous and told me what I had hoped he would about Apollinaire. I told him about the hit you made at Bryn Mawr and he seemed quite amused. He obviously esteems you highly"(Douglas Cooper Papers, op. cit.
, accession no. 860161).
Painted in the mid-1930s, Pichet et fruits
shows Braque’s continuing fascination with the genre that dominated his work from the Cubist period onward. A series of finely composed still lifes from this important decade served as a vessel for his formal and pictorial exploration. The same pedestal tables, tablecloths, fruit bowls and jugs frequently reappear within the series, observed from new angles and in fresh permutations. In the present work the "transparent" aesthetic that would define Braque's work in the 1930s is well demonstrated. Elements of the composition overlap with varying degrees of transparency, creating an illusion of recession and depth. The dimensionality of the picture is further enhanced by Braque's choice of color. He limits his palette in a manner that focuses the eye on the piece of fruit and the pitcher at the center of the canvas. The egg and dart pattern along the periphery in turn serves to flatten the pictorial plane. Braque is seen employing the methods of synthetic Cubism, but notably using paint rather than collage to draw the eye to the surface of the canvas.
As described by Jean Leymarie, “Braque abandons naturalistic depiction and the sensitive painterly element so as to make visible the picture’s structure, its framework, which is no longer restricted to the narrowly delimited pictorial plane but reaches far into space” (Jean Leymarie, Georges Braque (exhibition catalogue), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1988, p. 27).