Jean Béraud: Artist Portrait

Jean Béraud

Born 1849. Died 1935.
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Jean Béraud Biography

Russian-born French painter Jean Béraud was known for his depictions of the changing face of Paris and the nightlife during the Belle Époque. Béraud was born in 1848 to French parents in St. Petersburg, Russia, while his father, a sculptor, worked at St. Isaac’s Cathedral. Following the death of his father, Béraud returned to Paris with his family, where he was to become a lawyer. He abandoned law school after the end of the Franco-Prussian war, and turned instead to painting. He studied at the École des Beaux Arts under Léon Bonnat, a major artist of the Third Republic. He became fascinated with modern life in Paris, particularly following the major infrastructure project of Haussmannisation named for Georges-Eugène Haussmann, the prefect chosen to lead the urban renewal project. Béraud painted the widened boulevards, new transportation systems and the intermingling of people from a wide array of social spheres. To some extent, he broke with the conventions of the Academy, and incorporated realism and satire into his paintings of 19th-century Parisian life, and loosened his brushstrokes, providing a bridge to the oncoming generation of Impressionist painters. He was close friends with Manet, Degas and Renoir; although he shared with them an interest in the changing face of Paris, and a quicker application of paint, he remained nonetheless steeped in the classical traditions of painting. He turned to unconventional biblical characters and scenes in unexpected compositions, creating some scandal; however, he was beloved and admired at the Salons, and achieved such success that he spent his later years on exhibition committees for the Salons of the Academy.

Although the Belle Époque fell out of popularity at the time of Béraud’s death, he has become one of the most beloved artists from the period. Béraud’s paintings are held at the Louvre, Paris; The Metropolitan Museum, New York; the National Gallery, London; the Art Institute of Chicago, and many other major institutions. His works continue to sell for exponentially higher prices; Après L’Office À L’Église de la Sainte Trinité, Noël 1890 sold for $672,000 and Avenue Parisienne for $1.5 million at Sotheby’s.

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