Lot 40
  • 40

Jean Béraud

400,000 - 600,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Jean Béraud
  • Le Monologue
  • signed Jean Béraud. and dated 1882 (lower right)
  • oil on canvas
  • 20 1/2 by 28 1/2 in.
  • 52 by 72.5 cm


Ernest-Alexandre-Honoré Coquelin, Paris (his sale: Hôtel Drouot, Paris, May 26, 1909, lot 3, as Le Monologue)
M. Hessellehis 
Sale: Hôtel Drouot, Paris, April 27, 1927, lot 1 (as Coquelin cadet récitant un monologue)
M. Brenner
Sale: Hôtel Drouot, Paris, June 30, 1950, lot 9 (as Coquelin cadet récitant un monologue)
Sale: Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, October 30, 1980, lot 53, illustrated (as Coquelin Reciting in a Paris Salon)
Sale: Sotheby Parke Bernet, London, June 21, 1983, lot 66, illustrated
Sale: Sotheby's, New York, May 23, 1996, lot 275, illustrated
Richard Green, London
Acquired from the above


Paris, Salon, 1882, no. 195
Munich, Glaspalast, Exposition internationale des beaux-arts, 1883, no. 12
Paris, Galerie Charpentier, Peintres de 1900, 1953


Izidor Krsnjavi, Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst, Leipzig, 1882, p. 368
Daniel Bernard, L'Exposition des beaux-arts, Paris, 1882, p. 83-4, illustrated
Théodore Véron, Dictionnaire Véron, Paris, 1882, p. 45
Ernest Hoschedé, Impressions de mon voyage au Salon de 1882, Paris, 1882, p. 15
Georges Lafenestre, Le Livre d'or du Salon de peinture, Paris, 1882, p. 22
Louis Enault, "Jean Béraud. Le Vertige," Paris-Salon, 1882
Paul Leroi, "Salon de 1882," L'Art, 1882, p. 226
Saint-Juirs, "Guide critique du Salon de 1882," Le Clairon, 1882, supplement, p. 17
"Le prochain Salon," Le Journal des arts, March 28, 1882, p. 1
Jacques de Biez, "Le Salon. 1882. Avant la lettre," Paris, April 29, 1882, p. 2
"Le Salon en courant," Le Temps, April 29, 1882, p. 2
Philbert Bréban, "Le Salon de 1882," Le XIXe Siècle, April 30, 1882, p. 1
Marius Vachon, "Le Salon de 1882," La France, May 1, 1882, p. 2
Demiton, "La Croix de Berny au Salon," Paris-Journal, May 6, 1882, p. 2
X. X., "Le Salon de 1882," Gil Blas, May 9, 1882, p. 2
J. de Nivelle, "La Chronique du Salon," Le Soleil, May 10, 1882, p. 1
Émile Bergerat, "Salon de 1882," Le Voltaire, May 22, 1882, p. 2
Le Sphinx, "Echo de Paris, le monde et la ville," L'Evénement, May 23, 1882, p. 1
Henry Havard, "Le Salon de 1882. La peinture," Le Siècle, May 27, 1882, p. 2
Auguste Dalligny, "Le Salon de 1882," Le Journal des Arts, June 23, 1882, p. 1
Léon Roger-Milès, "Jean Béraud," La Revue illustrée, September 1, 1893, p. 193
Bob Haboldt, Portrait de l'artiste, exh. cat., Haboldt & Co., Paris, 1991-2, p. 132, illustrated p. 133 
Colin B. Bailey, Portraits de Renoir, exh. cat., National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; The Art Institute of Chicago; The Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth 1997, p. 317, illustrated fig. 242
Patrick Offenstadt, Jean Béraud. The Belle Epoque: A Dream of Times Gone By, Cologne, 1999, p. 178-9, no. 195, illustrated


The following condition report was kindly provided by Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc.: This work is in very good condition. The canvas is unlined and well stretched. The painting is clean and nicely varnished. It shows only a few tiny retouches in the jacket of the central male figure, a few tiny dots above his head in the wall, a handful of spots above the newspaper in the lower right, and a few spots on the extreme edges.
"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

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, the artist turned his keen eye toward the subtle social codes and nuanced manners of Paris’ elite gatherings, recording them in compositions like Une Soirée (1878, Musee d’Orsay, Paris), depicting dancers in a frieze-like arrangement as they gather on a glossy ballroom floor, and in the present work a gathering for an intimate evening’s performance of a monologue.  Béraud depicts the attentive audience shoulder-to-shoulder, the women dressed in a spectrum of jewel-toned gowns, the low décolletage, cinched waists, and flowing trains swept aside and around their chairs epitomizing the popular mermaid-style gowns of the era (Gloria Groom, “Spaces of Modernity,” Impressionism, Fashion, Modernity, exh. cat., The Art Institute of Chicago, The Metropolitan Museum, New York, Musée d’Orsay, Paris, 2012, p. 183).  The colorful women are flanked by the sartorial display of men in black-and-white evening costume, their uniformity interrupted by personal flair, seen in the selection of contemporary styles of beards, mustaches, and mutton chops. This fashionable arrangement of la vie mondaine serves as a perfect illustration to an 1870s Paris guidebook, which suggested in “all of coquetry’s light is on Woman [sic]” while man is “the lining of the jewelry box against which the eternal diamond stands out” allowing “her to sing the symphony of white, pink, and green, as a solo” (Guide sentimental de l’étranger dans Paris, p. 83-4 as quoted in Philippe Thiébaut, “An Ideal of Virile Urbanity,”  Impressionism, Fashion, Modernity, exh. cat., 2012, p. 137).  

While the audience of Le Monologue may be the focus of Béraud’s eye, their attention is fixed upon the celebrated actor Ernest-Alexandre-Honoré Coquelin (1848-1909), known as Coquelin cadet (the younger) to differentiate him from his older brother Benoît-Constant Coquelin (1841-1909), considered one of the greatest theatrical figures of the late nineteenth century.  After graduating with a first prize for comedy from the Conservatoire in 1864, Coquelin cadet soon made his debut at the Comédie Française before joining the company of the Théâtre des Variétés (see lot 44).  The artist and actors knew each other well and Béraud painted Coquelin cadet in the costume of his celebrated stage roles of the 1870s (as he also did with his brother), including Sylvester in Molière’s Les Fourberies de Scapin (1877, private collection).  Throughout the 1880s, Coquelin cadet published and performed a series of widely popular comedic monologues, making him a sought-after addition to elegant evening entertainments (fig 1).  As contemporary critics suggested, Coquelin cadet is best remembered for his incredible “aptitude for soliloquy and monologues which were often written by himself… [and] made him one of the most popular artists in Paris drawing rooms (The Theatre Magazine, February 1909, p. iv). Much like Béraud, Coquelin cadet was a keen observer of contemporary life, and was often described as both a great actor and flâneur— translating his impressions of modern life into one-man performances, where intimate conversation was heightened by extravagant gestures and body movements.  In the present work, Béraud captures the actor in full performance, his ungloved hand emphatically gesturing with mouth open in oration, compelling each guest, even those far in the background, to peer forward; their open smiles and laughs hidden by handkerchiefs prove the effect that this animated actor has made on his rapt audience.  

Coquelin cadet's theatrical abilities were enhanced by his distinct physical appearance.  A contemporary profile described his “small green eyes constantly on the look-out from their sockets,” and a “large mouth, with a toothy smile that went from ear to ear when he laughs,” as well as his anvil square chin and a lanky body which seemed to be made of mismatched parts but moved with a surprising fluidity (as translated from the French, Angelo Mariani, Figures contemporaines tirées de l'Album Mariani, Paris, 1894, n.p.). While not conventionally handsome, the actor possessed a magnetism which captivated Béraud and is captured in a number of other contemporary portraits by artists like Emile Friant, Anders Zorn (fig. 2) and Édouard Vuillard, the actor being his first patron (fig. 3). Coquelin cadet is also believed to be the model for Auguste Rodin’s Head of Pierre de Wissant, his distinct physiology and trained ability to hold an exaggerated pose providing endless inspiration (Albert E. Elsen with Rosalyn Frankel Jamison, Rodin’s Art:  The Rodin Collection of Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, New York, 2003, p. 141, fig. 4).  Moreover, by including such a widely celebrated figure in their compositions, artists like Béraud easily invited critical response and popular attention.  Upon exhibition at the Paris Salon and Munich International Exhibitions of 1883, Le Monologue was mentioned in a long list of reviews, its particular success for the artist suggested by its prominent place in a photographic portrait of the artist in his studio.