Nature morte aux livres et au compotier depicts a largely blue and white composition, punctuated by vivid bursts of orange and yellow of the fruit and books, a rare still life by one of the founders of Fauvism, Maurice de Vlaminck. While the white in the foreground, depicting what appears to be a crumpled table cloth, may not appear in keeping with the Fauve palette, the broad ribbons of paint - frenetically applied to the canvas - that he has used in that area, show the energy with which he painted. Meanwhile the fruit and books are made all the more intense by their incandescent contrast with the cooler blues and white. In this way, Nature morte aux livres et au compotier reveals Vlaminck's passion for the works of Vincent van Gogh, whom he had long admired, and with whom he shared a desire to push the concept of painting as a means of expression - in part through his intense colourism - to new extremes.
In the recently-published catalogue raisonné of Vlaminck's works from the Fauve period, Nature morte aux livres et au compotier has been ascribed a date of 1907, placing it at a turning point in his career. It was in 1907 that Vlaminck began to move away from Fauvism, looking increasingly at the structure of his paintings, especially under the influence of the recently-deceased Paul Cézanne, who was granted an important posthumous retrospective at the Salon d'Automne that year. Looking at Nature morte aux livres et au compotier, that influence may be in evidence in the use of the deep blue and the white, as well as the fruit on their compotier - these are hallmarks of Cézanne's own still life compositions. However, in Nature morte aux livres et au compotier, Vlaminck has combined those aspects of Cézanne's work with an intense energy, a shimmering colourist vitality.
In the foreground of Nature morte aux livres et au compotier are the books of the title. These recall a number of Van Gogh's own pictures of livres jaunes - this was often the appearance of cheaper, unbound books from Paris, especially the realist novels that made such an impact on him. In Vlaminck's case, the presence of these Parisian books may be a double tribute, both to Van Gogh and to himself, as he was an accomplished author in his own right and indeed he had published his third novel, Ames de mannequins, co-written with Fernand Sernada, that year (see M. Vallès-Bled, Vlaminck, Catalogue critique des peintures et céramiques, vol. I, La période fauve, 1900-1907, Paris, 2008, p. 549).