Five Exceptional Works by Jean Béraud

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Jean Béraud was the most celebrated observer of Parisian life during the Belle Époque, and the following five paintings, on offer in Sotheby's European Art sale on 24 May, show his optimism in an increasingly modern city. Each is an entertaining spectacle as much as it is a historical document, offering visual accounts of the earliest Bastille Day celebrations, the female workers who fought for equal rights, the rising influence of the Impressionists and the joys of living in this dynamic metropolis. In advance of the auction, click ahead to discover more about five works by the artist.

European Art
24 May | New York

Five Exceptional Works by Jean Béraud

  • Jean Béraud, La Marseillaise. Estimate $400,000–600,000. To be offered in Sotheby’s European Art sale on 24 May in New York.
    This spirited, light-filled painting shows Bastille Day in Paris in 1880, the first celebration of its anniversary since 1790. Exuberantly singing the Marseillaise, a group of workmen, artists, students and shopkeepers parade westward along the flag-draped rue St. Antoine from the Place de la Bastille. 

  • Claude Monet, La Rue Montorgueil à Paris. Fête du 30 juin 1878, 1878,
Musée d’Orsay.
    Like many artists, Béraud was excited by the rebirth of republicanism, and in his painting, he captures the widespread feeling of hope and excitement with characters who are at once symbolic and highly individualised. He has also incorporated the billowing tricolour flag, perhaps an homage to Monet’s famous canvas, shown here, that had been exhibited at La quatrième exposition impressioniste in 1879.

  • Jean Béraud, Le Monologue. Estimate $400,000–600,000. To be offered in Sotheby’s European Art sale on 24 May in New York.
    This painting enthralled visitors to the Paris Salon of 1882 and the Munich International Exposition of 1883, in part because of the celebrity of Ernest-Alexandre-Honore Coquelin. Known as a comedic actor at the Comédie-Française, he is shown here captivating a fashionable audience with an intimate monologue. An endorsement of the painting's significance to the artist, this work can also be seen in the following portrait of Béraud in his studio. 

  • Coquelin & Béraud
    Béraud, who is depicted on the right in his studio, painted the actor Coquelin many times, on stage and off, in costume and in everyday dress, as well as the posters that advertised his shows. These two luminaries shared a glittering social circle, and Nadar’s photograph of the actor, shown on the left, confirms his likeness.

  • Jean Béraud, Scène de Grands Boulevards un jour de pluie. Estimate $300,000–500,000. To be offered in Sotheby’s European Art sale on 24 May in New York.
    The wide streets and tree-lined boulevards of Haussmann's Paris feature prominently in Béraud’s work, and here, the artist has captured a bustling, rainy morning on the Boulevard des Italiens. At left, the construction of the iconic Credit Lyonnais roof can be seen in the background. 

  • Gustave Caillebotte, Boulevard des Italiens, 1880, Private Collection, France.
    Gustave Caillebotte has taken the same subject, the Boulevard des Italiens, for his work from 1880. 

  • Jean Béraud, L’Arrivée des midinettes. Estimate $250,000–350,000. To be offered in Sotheby’s European Art sale on 24 May in New York.
    L’arrivée des midinettes shows a group of self-assured Parisian seamstresses in front of the Place de l’Opéra. Dated 1901, this work likely commemorates the explosive labor strike of February of that year, centred in the garment trade workshops around l’avenue de l’Opéra. The strike is known to have captivated the public spirit and galvanised the burgeoning labor and feminist movements in Paris. 

  • Photo by Leemage/UIG via Getty Images
    Meeting of tailors and dressmakers on strike, at the Employment Exchange, Frontpage of French newspaper Le Petit Parisien, March 3rd, 1901.
    The strike spread from the elite dress-making shops of the rue de la Paix, through Sentier and to the crowded sweatshops and homeworkers of Montmartre. While men and women were striking side by side, the midinettes’ actions prompted the feminist newspaper La Fronde, published by actress Marguerite Durand, to declare that “the success of the strike lies in the hands of women,” and the mainstream press and public agreed. 

  • Jean Béraud, Les Grands Boulevards, Le Théâtre des Variétés. Estimate $300,000–500,000. To be offered in Sotheby’s European Art sale on 24 May in New York.
    In this lively and full composition, Jean Béraud presents an afternoon on rue Montmartre, in front of Le Théâtre des Variétés. The artist meticulously recorded the sights of city life, and here, he details the many characters he encountered, and highlights one of Paris’ most recognisable cultural landmarks, a colonne Morris. 


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