Lot 36
  • 36

Jean Béraud

500,000 - 700,000 USD
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  • Jean Béraud
  • Scène sur les Champs-Élysées
  • signed Jean Béraud. (lower right)
  • oil on panel
  • 14 1/2 by 21 in.
  • 36.8 by 53.3 cm


Paris, Galerie Charpentier, Peintres de 1900, 1953, no. 17


Patrick Offenstadt, Jean Béraud 1849-1935, The Belle Époque: A Dream of Times Gone By, catalogue raisonné, Cologne, 1999, p. 144, no. 135, illustrated p. 145


The following condition report was kindly provided by Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc.: This work is in beautiful condition. It is painted on a good panel with a cradle on the reverse. The panel is flat and healthy. There is no instability to the paint layer. The work is clean and un-abraded. There are no losses or retouches. The painting should be hung as is.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

In 1889, a Danish visitor to Paris remarked that its boulevards were “the great rendezvous where the whole population flocks together to satisfy its great craving for sociability, where people meet with the wish of being together, and associate with the amiable courtesy and easy approach that is a consequence of the consciousness of being mutually entertaining” (Richard Kaufmann, Paris of Today, translated from the Danish by Olga Flinch, New York, 1891, p. 73).  It is this impression of busy “modern” life that Béraud captures in his Scène sur les Champs-Élysées, the panoramic depiction of that iconic avenue, full of an uncountable number of carriages out for a day’s ride, the unmistakable Arc de Triomphe in the background. By the late nineteenth century, the wealthy and fashionable bourgeoisie had largely abandoned the narrow passages and apartments of Paris’ central city for the grand boulevards of the post-Haussmann era. The expansive and orderly streets were flanked by the neat, plastered façades of grand hôtels with interiors that held all the comforts of modern living.  Despite the luxuries of home, the social opportunities waiting out-of-doors were too tempting, and the beau monde spent much of their day, especially Sunday afternoons, riding and promenading on the boulevards and avenues— transforming them into plein air receiving rooms.  Of all the streets, the Champs-Élysées afforded perhaps the best opportunities to see and be seen; on horseback, in an expensive carriage, or strolling in the newest cut of dress, a circuit was made from one end of the avenue to the other, often finishing with a picnic at the Bois du Boulogne (see lot 39).   Overall, the new shops, cafés, and entertainments of  Belle Époque Paris inspired an entirely new culture: life was now lived in public (Debra N. Mancoff, Fashion in Impressionist Paris, London, p. 8).  Just as Béraud depicts in the present work, the flirtatious exchange between a man and woman on a sunny afternoon could be as commonplace a sighting along the streets or in passing carriages as it was in in the privacy of a well-appointed salon.   As such, with Scène sur les Champs-Élysées,  Béraud allows both viewer and observed to become, as one contemporary social critic remarked, a class of people who “thoroughly understood the street and realized a conception of it which has become a model of excellence (Philip Gilbert Hamerton, Paris in Old and Present Times, London, 1892, p. 308).