Georges Braque was a highly skilled landscape painter who took on scenes of France within a variety of different styles. His most prolific time with this genre was when he was working as a fauvist painter, which is a style defined by its vibrant palette. Port of La Ciotat provides an example of how he would combine tones of pink, purple and yellow to create upbeat landscape and cityscape scenes. He was not too concerned about detail during this period and offered more of an abstract rendition of the items that he would have been viewing at the time. His brushwork is loose, with forms created by just a single stroke of colour, and this is typical of many modern art styles which came about in the early 20th century.
This piece is actually more busy than many of his other fauvist artworks, with a lot going on. We find a large number of boats, for example, most of which are small rowing boats, charming and pretty. This sets the scene of a local harbour, with fishermen going out to sea for relatively small loads. It feels more traditional than the type of industrial fishing that we see today, and many will enjoy this type of atmosphere. The harbour itself sweeps around, with several buildings lining the walkway. In the distance we see some much larger vessels jutting up into the sky, as well as a row of hills in the far background. Everything is approximate here, from the angles of the masts, to the relative sizing of the smaller boats, it is not intended to be too precise.
Those new to this artist's career should take the time to study all of wide-ranging oeuvre, rather than just the cubist paintings, for which he is most famous. One can also better understand how he ended up where he did, because there was a slow visual transition over time between movements, rather than an abrupt change. He remains a highly respected master of French art who played an important role in pushing new ideas in the early 20th century.