Lot 42
  • 42

Jean Béraud

300,000 - 500,000 USD
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  • Jean Béraud
  • Scène de Grands Boulevards, un jour de pluie 
  • signed Jean Béraud (lower left)
  • oil on panel
  • 10 1/4 by 14 1/4 in.
  • 26 by 36.2 cm


Edward Kearney (his sale: American Art Association, New York, February 7, 1901, lot 11)
Peter Del Lacy (acquired at the above sale)
Hammer Galleries, New York
Sale: Sotheby's, New York, October 17, 1991, lot 103, illustrated
Richard Green, London
Acquired from the above 


Patrick Offenstadt, Jean Béraud. The Belle Epoque: A Dream of Times Gone By, Cologne, 1999, p. 106, no. 40, illustrated p. 107


The following condition report was kindly provided by Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc.: This work is essentially in perfect condition. The panel is flat and unreinforced. It shows no cracks or instability. A few tiny spots of retouching have been added in the sky. The work is clearly in beautiful state.
"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

Jean Béraud’s paintings are today synonymous with the Paris Belle Époque, so much so that at the turn of the century a scene of Parisian life came to be known as a "Béraud." He adored the city, in all weathers, at any time of day or night, indoors or out, and above all loved its people, whether the aristocracy and upper middle classes, the bourgeoisie, or the workers. A pupil of Léon Bonnat (see lot 64), Béraud’s rigorous draftsmanship owes something to this academic training, but his choice of subjects was poles apart from those of the Neoclassicist William Bouguereau (see lots 17, 18, and 50), Georges Jules Victor Clairin (see lot 69) and Jean-Léon Gérôme (see lots 2, 4, 6, 7, and 67). While the latter lived in the past, Béraud’s inspiration was modern metropolitan life, as the author Joris-Karl Huysmans noted: "This artist, who began by painting little Ledas like everyone else, soon washed his eyes out, and since then has only depicted what he has seen for himself" (J-K. Huysmans, L’Art moderne, Paris, 1903, reprinted in L’Art moderne. Certains, Paris, 1975, p. 55).

The wide streets and tree lined boulevards of Haussmann's Paris feature prominently in Béraud's work. Executed around 1882-1883 (dated by the construction of the roof of Credit Lyonnais, seen in the background at left), Béraud captures the rainy morning bustle on the Boulevard des Italiens. The famous clock rising from the center of the composition appears to read about twenty past ten in the morning, and various figures, horses, and omnibuses traverse the wet and busy street. Even in this small scale, his attention to every detail creates an enduring and charming composition.

Doubtless Béraud’s elegant realism owed something to the new art of photography pioneered by Niépce, Daguerre, and Fox Talbot. Hungry for verisimilitude, Béraud was in one sense a roving camera himself, making sketches on the spot. "As a result," the journalist Paul Hourie commented, "Béraud has the strangest life imaginable. He spends all his time in carriages. It is not unusual to see a cab parked at the corner of a street for hours on end, with the 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 favourite fares, because he at least doesn’t wear their horses out" (Paul Hourie, "Jean Béraud," L’Estafette, September 13, 1880).