Here, in this painting of a small lute, the Mandora hovers in the middle of a picture of almost three-dimensional geometric shapes, suggesting gradated musical rhythms and vibrations. A bottle is also just visible behind it, but objects and space merge. Still-life paintings were another favourite, and he saw these as a similar theme.
Braque spent some time as part of the Fauvist movement, when he worked with Raoul Dufy and Othon Friesz, producing a less colourful style than that of other enthusiasts such as Matisse. His art was, however, evolving towards the geometrics of Paul Cézanne, which in Mandora, led Braque to experiment with multi-faceted shapes in subdued shades. This allowed him to integrate items with their backgrounds, but at the same time to bring them closer to the viewer and to give them an extra dimension. Cézanne's 1907 retrospective, a year after his death, had a profound affect on the artistic community in Paris, and led to the development of Cubism.
Born in 1882, Georges Braque was still young at the time of this painting in 1909-10. Now heavily influenced by Pablo Picasso, he had embraced Cubism a couple of years earlier. By the time he came to produce Mandora, both artists were progressing from solid forms towards the more fragmented Analytical Cubism, using monochromatic colour and complicated faceted patterns. This technique was ideally suited to the fluidity and sound waves of music explored in Mandora, and allowed him to display all parts and sides of the instrument at once.
Together with Picasso, Georges Braque was a major figure in the development of Cubism, and at the time, their work was closely linked. Collaboration ended when the Frenchman enlisted during the First World War and sustained an injury. His quieter nature contrasted with Picasso's more flamboyant personality and growing celebrity status, and while Braque developed a freer style of Cubism between the wars, the Spaniard was constantly questioning and reinventing his own work.
Although he was appreciated by other painters - as Paul Valéry pointed out, Picasso wouldn't have been who he was without Braque, and Ozenfant asked "After him, who?" - Braque is less well known today than either the Spanish master or the Fauvist Matisse. However Mandora, now part of Tate Modern's collection, is a perfect example of his best period, and is considered a masterpiece of Analytical Cubism.