This still life is primarily an act of homage to a painting which Gauguin had acquired around 10 years earlier, Cézanne's 'Still Life with Compotier, Glass and Apples' (Museum of Modern Art, New York). It repeats many of the elements of this painting, such as the fruit, pottery, rumpled tablecloth and the knife at lower right. On a wider level it is also indicative of Gauguin moving away from Impressionism to a more structurally rigorous art exemplified by Cézanne's work.
There are reminders of Brittany where Gauguin was based at this time. The tankard is probably of local production. The strip of townscape at the top is likely to be based on a photograph of Pont-Aven.
Gauguin's famous primitive signature, which he began to use at around this time, is here placed upside down, perhaps to immerse it into the overall surface patterning of the painting.