Painted in 1942 and resonating with the elegant simplicity of the artist's wartime still-lifes, Nature morte à la pipe is a fine example of the genre of which Georges Braque was such an unparalleled master. Braque regarded himself as the heir of Jean-Baptiste Chardin and Paul Cézanne, ennobling the most mundane of objects through a clear and implacably strict inner logic, the underpinnings of which were based on pictorial solutions he and Picasso had proposed during their cubist experiments. In the present work Braque sets his austere objects on a simple tabletop, balancing the main elements of the composition - the jug, the teapot, the grapes, the platter and the slices of cake - around a central axis defined by the bold form of the pipe. For Braque, the language of cubism provided limitless possibilities and dictated the form and balance of his still-lifes.
'Still-life has always been the speciality of Braque's genius. Seldom has painting been used to confer so much enchantment on such ordinary things: loaves of bread, knives, packets of cigarettes, fruit, flowers, and innumerable domestic accessories... Like Chardin before him, Braque takes us into the salon, the kitchen, the bedroom, the dining-room, even into his own studio in pursuit of reality: nothing is too humble to find a place in one of his pictures... So, from the lowliest objects Braque extracts a new poetry as he paints, and our experience of the world becomes fuller and more exciting. If we will look, Braque will teach us to see, and this, after all, is the highest function of the true artist' (D. Cooper, 'Georges Braque: The Evolution of a Vision', in exh. cat., G. Braque, Tate Gallery, London, 1956, pp. 14-15).