This post-cubist drawing from 1918 perfectly demonstrates Picasso's rapid transition from Cubism to Classicism. During the last two years of the Great War, Picasso had set himself apart from the Cubists as a group and decided once again to become a painter of representational pictures, creating works that were deeply indepted to tradition. This significant change at first seems startling, so soon after the breakthrough revelation of Cubism, but it was partly due to the response to the dominant French nationalist theme of a return to the discipline and order of classicism, that emerged from the War. Living in France at the time,the country saw itself as the direct descendent of antiquity, a return to the values of the ancient world was common to all, and, as always Picasso was in the forefront. A return seemed logical since, for Picasso, Cubism could go no further. However, the achievements of Cubism were never abandoned, and familiar objects, such as the bowel of fruit, made famous in his breakthrough cubist painting Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, continued to be one of the chief elements in his new series of still life paintings.
In Compotier avec fruits, the preparatory drawing for the later oil (fig. 1), we see Picasso returning to the basics of the still-life in a very simple, clear-cut composition. Cubism had allowed Picasso to find freedom, and this drawing demonstrates how Picasso, was now ready to apply his discoveries to concrete forms. In Compotier avec fruits we see Picasso presenting the objects within a still-life straightforwardly in a palpable clear-cut fashion. The flat arrangements of the shapes build a composition that seems to stand solidly in space: he is concentrating on the intellectual guides to depth, the overlapping and screening of shapes, defining the components of pictorial space and spatial recession. Compotier avec fruits is, thus, one of the finest examples of Picasso's attempt at integrating the discoveries and experiences of Cubism into the great classical tradition.