By the late 1930s Braque had achieved a masterly synthesis in his approach to still-life painting. He possessed a total command of the technical means that enabled him to work freely in different sized formats and with degrees of compositional complexity that were carefully gauged to suit a diverse choice of subjects. "At the time of the outbreak of the Second World War  Braque was at the zenith of his maturity and had attained international recognition as one of the greatest living French artists. The still-lifes executed in the second half of the 1930s are among the fullest and most sumptuous in the entire French canon" (J. Golding, Braque: The Late Works, exh. cat., The Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1997, p. 1). In 1938, the year in which the present picture was painted, Braque devoted most of his time to large-scale decorative still-lifes, in which he compressed proliferation of details within a flattened space to create densely woven ornamental patterns. The sumptuously Baroque richness of these paintings recalls the elaborate still-life compositions of the 17th century Dutch school. At the same time Braque painted smaller and more classically austere works that depicted only a few humble objects, and show a clear debt to Francisco de Zurburán and other 17th century Spanish masters.
The present painting represents a middle ground between these two tendencies in Braque's work, and in its intimate warmth, measured simplicity and balance most closely reflects a native French tradition in still-life painting derived from Chardin. Here, as in paintings of both larger and smaller format, Braque was guided by two compositional imperatives--"one, to create images of an extreme density by an assemblage as compact as possible; the other, to deploy through the composition a larger rhythm of breathing" (P. Descargues, "The Work of George Braque," G. Braque, New York, 1978, p. 169). On the right side of the painting, fruit, fruit board, napkin, spoon and placemat have superimposed one on top of another, in a manner derived from synthetic cubist practice. By contrast, the vase holding branches on the left side stands apart in its relatively straightforward simplicity. The wave-like space around the objects opens up the composition and allows it to breathe.
Braque's lifelong preoccupation with objects, and their pictorial relationships to each other, is as significant here as in his cubist paintings done twenty-five years earlier. His objects "are admittedly the most humble, mundane, seemingly anonymous everyday items. All these objects truly belong to Braque, they are part of the tactile or manual space which he so frequently mentioned. Caressed by his hand - which has held the glass, touched the guitar, poured water from the jug - and by his visionary imagination, they are the interface between the artist's inner world and the space where he works. The object then is not a barrier to thought, but on the contrary, stimulates it, becoming an integral part of the process of thought-painting which is at the core of Braque's work. The object becomes the subject of contemplation, in the fullest sense of the word" (I. Monod-Fontaine, "Georges Braque's Still-Lifes," Braque: Order and Emotion, exh. cat., Museum of Contemporary Art, Andros, Greece, 2003, p.19).