Lot 4
  • 4

Jean Béraud

100,000 - 150,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Jean Béraud
  • Le Vent
  • signed Jean Béraud. (lower right)
  • oil on canvas
  • 15 1/2 by 18 5/8 in.
  • 39.4 by 47.2 cm


Private Collection, New York (before 1927)
Thence by descent through the family

Catalogue Note

Le Vent, with its inquisitive, voyeuristic and humorous sensibility, embodies the very best qualities of Béraud’s idiosyncratic body of work. His sophisticated eye was drawn to the characters that populated the bustling streets, cafés and theatres of Paris and his broad affection for all of them granted him notoriety and popularity; in fact, Marcel Proust described him as “a charming creature, sought in vain by every social circle” (as quoted in Patrick Offenstadt, Jean Béraud, 1849-1935, The Belle Époque: A Dream of Times Gone By, catalogue raisonné, Cologne, 1999, p. 7). Béraud was one of the city’s most scrupulous and devoted observers and he travelled through Paris in a mobile studio, intent on capturing the fleeting events and interactions that contributed to modern urban life. Journalist Paul Hourie described the great lengths to which Béraud would go to observe the activity of the city: “When you paint scenes from everyday life, you have to place them in their context and give them their authentic setting. This means that, in order to be sincere, you have to photograph them on the spot and forget about the conventions of the studio. As a result, Jean Béraud has the strangest life imaginable. He spends all his time in carriages. It is not unususal to see a cab parked at the corner of a street for hours on end, with an artist sitting inside, firing off rapid sketches.That's Jean Béraud, in search of a scene, drawing a small fragment of Paris. Almost all the cab drivers in the city know him. He’s one of their favorite passengers, because he at least doesn’t wear their horses out (as quoted in Offenstadt, p. 9)

In Le Vent, Béraud has captured a moment of la vie Parisienne with great wit and deftly combines multiple elements in order to build a charming narrative. The upper half of the canvas shows an overcast sky streaked with autumn branches while the ground underfoot is slick with rain, creating depth through its reflections. Béraud has stationed himself on the banks of the Seine, presumably looking at the three iron arches of the southern arm of the Pont de Sully, built by Baron Haussman in 1876. A blustery autumn day sets the scene for a fashionably-dressed woman to be caught in the wind, however, with her feet held together and head turned coquettishly in the viewer’s direction, she hardly appears to be struggling. She holds her umbrella with her left hand and seems to be taming her windswept petticoats and red stockings with the other. With his interest in the social relationships between city dwellers, Béraud is not averse to representing the interactions of men and women (see lot 5). Whether it is invited or not, Béraud’s Parisienne has captivated the attention of the artist walking past, perhaps the bearded Jean Béraud himself with paint box and canvas in hand, as well as the oncoming man whose hat is about to be blown off and the commuter climbing the stairs from the Seine.