Lot 5
  • 5

Jean Béraud

Estimate
100,000 - 150,000 USD
Sold
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Description

  • Jean Béraud
  • La réception
  • signed Jean Béraud (lower right)
  • oil on canvas
  • 10 1/2 by 13 7/8 in.
  • 26.6 by 35.2 cm

Provenance

Private Collection, New York (before 1996)
Sale: William Doyle Galleries, New York, November 6, 1996, lot 13, illustrated
Jean-François Heim, Paris
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Exhibited

Paris, Musée Carnavalet, Jean Béraud et le Paris de la Belle Époque, September 29, 1999-January 2, 2000, no. 21

Literature

Patrick Offenstadt, Jean Béraud, 1849-1935, The Belle Époque: A Dream of Times Gone By, catalogue raisonné, Cologne, 1999, p. 177, no. 193, illustrated p. 176

Catalogue Note

Throughout the Belle Époque, Jean Béraud moved through Paris’ fashionable set with a calendar so full he once remarked wearily: “I go out a lot, too much, even” (as quoted in Offenstadt, p. 18).  Through countless engagements, Béraud turned his keen eye toward the subtle social codes and nuanced manners of Paris’ elite gatherings, recording them in compositions like La Réception.  While works like Une soirée (1878, Musée d’Orsay Paris),  depict a frieze-like arrangement of dancers gathering on a glossy ballroom floor, in the present work Béraud retreats to a petit salon, the gathering place for men to chat away from the bustle of the party and the company of women.  The sartorial display in the present work is a relatively rare glimpse of such men’s fashion of the era. 

Indeed, in the catalogue for the recent exhibition, Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity, Philippe Thiébaut and Gloria Groom discuss just how infrequently Béraud’s contemporaries, the Impressionists, painted men's black-and-white evening costume, perhaps due to its static appearance.  In the late nineteenth century, the Parisian man was limited to two changes of clothes: from daytime to evening outfits, with an overall emphasis on dark colors (Philippe Thiébaut, “An Ideal of Virile Urbanity,” p. 137, 142; Gloria Groom, “Spaces of Modernity,” p. 183 in Impressionism, Fashion, Modernity, exh. cat., The Art Institute of Chicago, The Metropolitan Museum, New York, Musée d’Orsay, Paris, 2012).  When considering the proper dress for men, an 1870s Paris guidebook noted while “all of coquetry’s light is on Woman,” [sic] man is “the lining of the jewelry box against which the eternal diamond stands out…. He allows her to sing the symphony of white, pink, and green, as a solo” (Guide sentimental de l’étranger dans Paris, pp. 83-4 as quoted in Thiébaut, p. 137).  Fittingly, in the present work, pops of bright color come from the floral hues of the women’s gowns as they stand in a receiving line. The uniformity of men’s costume demanded that artists like Béraud use gesture or pose to suggest individual personality: hands clad in white gloves punctuate a conversation, while a slouched shoulder suggests a fatigue with the topic at hand (Thiébaut p. 140). The men are on unselfconscious display just as they are in the series of works Béraud painted of male-only private clubs.  Given contemporary fashion’s challenges for the artist, the wit and charm of La Réception is a particular testament to Béraud’s skill.

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