Georges Braque
Nature Morte (Violon et Compotier), also titled Still Life (Violin and Candlestick), 1910

This work embodies the dynamic and energetic qualities of Analytic Cubism, a revolutionary artistic style pioneered by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso to depict three-dimensional objects on a flat canvas without the use of traditional Renaissance perspective. In this conceptual approach to painting, perceived forms are broken down, fractured, flattened, and then reconstructed in multiple-point perspective within a shallow space. Braque described this kind of fragmentation as “a technique for getting closer to the object.”

Here, still-life props (some recognizable and some impossible to identify) are clustered toward the center of a gridlike armature. Braque united the objects and the background by opening up and covering over the boundaries of the black-outlined objects, and by using the same earth-toned colors for the entire painting. He transformed volumes in the still life to accommodate their multiple surfaces on a flat plane, thereby allowing the viewer to see more of the form than would be possible from a single vantage point.

Artwork Info

Artwork title
Nature Morte (Violon et Compotier), also titled Still Life (Violin and Candlestick)
Artist name
Georges Braque
Date created
oil on canvas
24 in. × 19 3/4 in. (60.96 cm × 50.17 cm)
Date acquired
Collection SFMOMA
Gift of Rita B. Schreiber in loving memory of her husband, Taft Schreiber
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Permanent URL
Artwork status
On view on floor 2 as part of Museum 101

Audio Stories

Radical ideas, out of a fruit dish

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This might not seem like a still life at first glance. However, this painting by Georges Braque includes both of the objects mentioned in its title, Violin and Candlestick. Look just below the center and you’ll see the candle placed in a circular base. Just under it and to the left you’ll find the violin.  


Yet ambiguities in this painting are heightened when we learn that its original French title translates as, Violin and Fruit Dish. Look for the fruit dish and try to guess what other objects Braque may have included. 


Braque painted this canvas in 1910, when Cubism was in its most active phase. For several years, he collaborated closely with Pablo Picasso in developing the radical ideas that characterized this bold new movement. Janet Bishop, Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.  



One of the objectives that Picasso and Braque had was to reinvent painting in a way that wasn’t dependent on Renaissance perspective. The forms in Cubist paintings tend to be presented from different vantage points. The candlestick in the center, for instance, shows its base tilted upward in the rear, and what that does is not only show us two different angles of the base of the candlestick, but it also allows the form of the base to echo that of the violin.  



Notice how the objects in this painting are very close in color to the background. The muted, earthy colors Braque chose for his Cubist works allowed him to focus his attention more on structure and form, thus moving more decisively toward abstraction. Braque works the angles, piling up forms like a city of faceted solids, treading a razor’s edge between a two-dimensional painting and a three-dimension world in which we live.     

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Other Works by Georges Braque

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