Le petit arbre devant la maison, in common with similar paintings of Les Gorges du Loup sur Vence (Tuchman, no. 74), belongs to Soutine's so-called Cagnes period. Soutine made several visits to Cagnes between 1922-25, during which he painted in and around the town of Cagnes-sur-Mer in southern France. The phrase 'Cagnes style' has been used to distinguish the work of this period from that of Soutine's later work in Paris.
The Cagnes style evolved from work Soutine created in Céret in the French Pyrenees between 1919 and 1922. However, unlike the Céret landscapes which have been described as unstable and earthquakelike, vibrating with movement and upheaval, Soutine here seeks to emphasise the identity of objects. Indeed, Soutine's Cagnes work is more clearly defined with trees and buildings more firmly rooted in the landscape, the palette too becomes brighter and more luminous. Buildings are still tipped sideways as in Le petit arbre devant la maison but not in such a violent earthquake like manner. Soutine has painted the clearly defined house in brilliant sunshine, due in part no doubt to the region's Mediterranean climate.
Of Soutine's Cagnes period, Maurice Tuchman has written: 'He is no longer totally immersed in the flow of sensation but able to step back and see it with greater objectivity. The brushstroke and paint are now directly related to the objects depicted. There is a correspondence between the actions evoked and the representation. Colors group into larger areas, each tied to the particular object being depicted. The greens come together to create the trees; the whites coalesce to define the houses' (M. Tuchman, E. Dunow and K. Perls, Chaim Soutine, Catalogue Raisonné, vol. I, Cologne, 1993, p. 98).