This painting is an example of the Cubist technique that was developed by Picasso and Braque in Paris before the First World War. Cubism moved away from the traditional realistic depiction of an object from a single viewpoint. Rather than attempt to create a three-dimensional likeness, objects were fragmented and seen from different angles, blurring the distinction between two- and three-dimensional representation. The two artists were influenced to some extent by Cézanne's method of breaking down all forms into basic geometric shapes.
Here, the fragmented forms of a table, a bowl of fruit, a bottle, a newspaper and a violin can be identified. The artist has used areas of strong flat colour, painted dots, bare canvas and grains of sand to suggest the presence of these objects.
This combination is characteristic of Picasso's Synthetic Cubism, in which he put together, or 'synthesised', areas of colour and texture to evoke recognisable objects. The shapes and colours are skilfully balanced to maintain the appearance of flatness and they echo one another throughout to create a satisfying and harmonious whole.
Image above: © Succession of Picasso / DACS