It marked a return by Braque to the subject of human figures following a two-year period that was almost entirely dedicated to painting landscapes and still life pieces.
Woman with a Mandolin was a product of Braque's first Cubist phase, referred to as Analytical Cubism.
It is likely that Braque chose to depict his character with a mandolin due to influence drawn from the French painter Camille Corot (1796 - 1875).
It was considered that the representation of a person holding a musical instrument endows the subject with an aspect of stillness reminiscent of an object.
Braque visited a presentation of Corot's work in Paris in 1909 along with his notable contemporary, Pablo Picasso.
The mandolin is a common object in Cubist art in general and it is thought that this influence largely stems from the poet Mallarme.
The symbolic representation of a mandolin has many metaphors associated with creation including the ability to produce music and it's shape having echoes of a woman's womb.
Shortly after Braque completed this work Picasso also produced a painting featuring a figure with a mandolin. There is much speculation that Braque drew many of his original influences from Picasso, but in this example it seems the reverse is true.
Later in their careers the two artists had much influence on each other, often sharing similar subject matter, themes and styles.
Many authors regard the painting as a prime example of how the background and subject of a piece can be meshed together in the Cubist style.
Vertical and horizontal lines weave a network between the woman and her surroundings and the colours are kept relatively simple with dashes of light and shadow creating a feeling of vitality and movement.