Lot 44
  • 44

Jean Béraud

300,000 - 500,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Jean Béraud
  • Les Grands Boulevards, Le Théâtre des Variétés
  • signed Jean Béraud. (lower left)
  • oil on canvas 
  • 15 3/8 by 21 5/8 in.
  • 39 by 55 cm


David H. King, Jr., New York (and sold, his sale, Chickering Hall, New York, February 17-19, 1896, lot 19, as Les Boulevard)
J.-S. Bates
Sale: Palais Galliera, Paris, March 17, 1971, lot 37
Hammer Galleries, New York (by 1972)
Kornye Gallery, Dallas
Sale: Christie's, New York, October 28, 1981, lot 27, illustrated 
Sale: Sotheby's, New York, May 23, 1989, lot 101, illustrated
Private Collector (acquired at the above sale, and sold, Christie's, New York, October 28, 2015, lot 40, illustrated)
Acquired at the above sale


New York, Hammer Galleries, The Elegant Epoch, December 11 - December 30, 1972, no. 3
Roslyn Harbor, New York, Nassau County Museum of Art, La Belle Epoque & Toulouse-Lautrec, June 8 - September 7, 2003


Patrick Offenstadt, Jean Béraud 1849-1935, The Belle Epoque: A Dream of Times Gone By, Cologne, 1999, pp. 84-5, 104, no. 35, illustrated


The following condition report was kindly provided by Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc.: This work is in beautiful condition. The canvas is lined with glue as an adhesive. There do not appear to be any retouches. The varnish is quite dull and could be adjusted. However, the condition is remarkable overall, and the work could otherwise 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

As a testament to the vital role of the café in Paris society, Johnson’s Universal Cyclopaedia’s 1896 entry for the city carefully described each establishment and its patrons: the “bankers and brokers predominate at the Café Riche; at the Café de Madrid is the headquarters of journalists” while “actors are numerous at the Café de Suède” (“Paris,” Johnson’s Universal Cyclopaedia, vol. VI, New York, 1896, p. 442).  As Béraud depicts in the present work, the Café de Suède was well located on the busy boulevard Montmartre and next door to the Théâtre des Variétés, founded in 1807 and still in operation today. Throughout the Belle Époque cafés could almost always be found neighboring a theater, each establishment taking advantage of the foot traffic and frequent turn-over of clientele from the other. Before it closed in 1901, the Café de Suède was known for its warm hospitality and diverse clientele— from actors to baccarat and billiard players, diamond merchants and, given the reported quality of its absinthe, those who “dreamily smoke or read or gaze, with goblets of a greenish liquor before them on the marble tables” (Wirt Sikes, “Parisian Newspaper-Men," Appleton’s Journal, vol. 1, July-December 1876, p. 124). The theater attracted world famous actors such as the Coquelin brothers (see lot 40), their performances announced on playbills posted on the columned façade as well as the city’s colonnes Morris, which take their name from the company which received the exclusive order for advertising columns from Baron Haussmann in 1868. Gabriel Morris, a printer and typographer, had invented the columns in 1860 as an ingenious method to both display playbills and allow street-sweepers to store their equipment in the hollow core (Offenstadt, p. 103).  A series of colonnes Morris stand at the left of the present work, and along with the café, theater, and bustle of boulevardiers, are iconic elements of Béraud’s paintings of Paris which attracted wealthy American collectors such as New York’s David H. King, Jr. (1849?-1916).  

The first recorded owner of Les Grands Boulevards, Le Theâtre des Variétés, King was a prominent New York developer responsible for the construction of some of the city’s best known landmarks from the Washington Square Arch to the pedestal for the Statue of Liberty.  In 1896, the present work was one of more than 160 paintings offered in the auction of King’s impressive collection, which included an important number of seventeenth century English portraits by artists such as George Romney and Thomas Gainsborough and French nineteenth century compositions by William Bouguereau, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, and Léon Augustin Lhermitte.