Art dealer and print enthusiast Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler commissioned Georges Braque to execute the large intaglio print Fox in 1911, at the same time that he asked Pablo Picasso to make a print using the same size plate. Cubism was a radical new style being created by these two artists as a collaborative effort, and this style is evident in Fox, a café still life in which Braque used the drypoint technique to fragment the forms by means of short, spontaneous, staccato lines and cross-hatchings. Textual components such as the word "FOX" make reference to an English-style bar frequented by the Cubist poets and painters, while "Old Tom Gin" refers to the central motif of the still life, a bottle of gin. Other recognizable elements—a tabletop and drawer, a playing card with a heart, and numbers that could refer to the slang term "75," for cheating at dice, or "15" centimes in a saucer—are also found in some contemporaneous, related paintings by Braque.
In all, Braque made ten prints in the Cubist style, of which only Fox and one other were published in editions at the time. (The other eight prints were issued in the 1950s, when there was a greater demand for Braque's work.) The artist resumed printmaking in the 1930s, at which time his subjects reflected the influence of Surrealism. A prime example is the book Théogonie, in which Braque used an arabesque etched line that reflects the automatic drawing of the Surrealists. In the last decades of his life, printmaking continued to interest him. Of the three hundred printed compositions he created, primarily in his later years, nearly two hundred were for illustrated books.
Publication excerpt from an essay by Jennifer Roberts, in Deborah Wye, Artists and Prints: Masterworks from The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2004, p. 68.