Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A PERFECT PARISIAN



We know Jean Béraud's work, his scenes of Paris, the animated streets, women passers-by sketched on the spot. But who was the man? Béraud never married, had no children and little is known of his private life. It is nevertheless possible to define the individual through his artistic career, his trials and errors and his successes.
(From .jeanberaud.net)
Béraud was born of wealthy French parents in Saint Petersburg, Russia, where his father's career as a sculptor introduced him to the arts at early age. After his father's death the family moved to Paris (1853). Beraud thus received his education at the Lycée Bonaparte. Studious and talented, he finished his degree in law before the Franco-Prussian War. During the siege of Paris he served in the army's Garde mobile de la Seine.
It was not until after the war that Béraud decided to become a portrait artist. He entered the studio of Leon Bonnat (one of the leading painters of the Third Republic) and received training as a portraitist for the next two years. The six entries he exhibited at the 1873 Salon document his preference for portraits during the early part of his career. He entered the official Salons regularly until 1889, receiving a Third-class medal in 1882 and a second-class medal 1883. The Late 1870s, however, show a change in Beraud’s focus, for he began recording scenes from Les Halles (1879 Salon) or the streets Montmartre (1880 Salon).
LJC & COMPANY)
Jean Béraud was a skilled documenter of Parisian daily life, which by then, had become a spectacle of display. After Baron Haussmann's reorganization and expansion of the Parisian boulevards during the 19th mid-century, which created the Paris recognizable today, the great expanses of space constructed, encouraged people to mill about the city, bringing every member of society out from inside their homes. Béraud appreciated and could depict its life in boulevards, cafes, and gardens. He was a perfect Parisian, by sentiment and art, in the exercise of which he painted the most characteristic Parisian types. He painted in a style that stands somewhere between the academic art of the Salon and that of the Impressionists. While his Impressionist contemporaries were moving out into the country to study the changing effects of the light on the landscape, Béraud remained rooted in Paris, studying the city life and its people.
(HuntFor.com)


Sortant De La Madeleine, Paris
From Wikipedia


Les Grands Boulevards Le Theatre Des Varietes
From Wikipedia


Le Boulevard St. Denis, Paris
Source www.allartpainting.com
From Wikipedia


First Communion
Oil on canvas
Private collection


Gloppe, 1889
Source www.cclarity.com
From Wikipedia


Au Bistro
From Wikipedia


La Rue de la Paix
Oil on canvas
c1907
Private collection
From ARC


The life of Paris was now found along the boulevards. No longer were residents traveling in a labyrinthine maze of small, medieval streets. Now fashionably dressed men and women spent their afternoons walking through the park, or strolled along the fashionable boulevards where they could now window shop and indulge their senses. Cafes became major gathering places for both the upper echelon of society and the modern artists seeking refuge from this display of pomp. Béraud had ample subject matter since Paris had become a world of “flaneurs,” or an idle stroller, and the leisurely activity of aimless wandering became a hobby for the most cultured of individuals. He began to document these, and many other images, during his prolific career.
(CHRISTIE’S)


Portrait D'un Homme Elegant
Portrait of a Dandy
Oil on panel
Private collection
From ARC


Young Parisienne
From Wikipedia


Envole d'un Biplan Type Wright
From Wikipedia


Une escrimeuse (A Swordswoman)
From Wikipedia


Béraud was described with only the most glowing remarks. He was a “gallant man…always punctilious in his actions…His behavior was always guided by the highest precepts of honor and taste.” (quoted in Patrick Offenstadt’s Jean Béraud: The Belle Epoque: A Dream of Times Gone By, Cologne: Taschen, 1999) Others said that “In a few brief remarks, he could demonstrate a gift for incisive, caustic observation, which you would hardly have suspected from his paintings. As an artist, he was devoid of vanity. He put aside compliments with brusque, smiling modest.” (Rehs GALLERIES.INC)
(CHRISTIE’S)


M. et Mme Galin devant le Jockey Club
THE HUGGIN MUSEUM


M. et Mme Galin devant le Jockey Club (above) is particularly charming example of Jean Béraud's work, subtly incorporating a double portrait into the kind of busy Parisian street scene for which the artist is most famed. Béraud was commissioned to paint M. et Mme Galin devant le Jockey Club by a notary, Victor Galin, who is portrayed with his wife Louise (née Dalligny) on the corner of the rue Scribe and the boulevard des Capucines in front of the Jockey Club and the Grand Café, both popular haunts of Paris society. The billboard column (known as a colonne Morris) behind the couple was a favoured motif of the artist, as the announcements for theatre and sporting fixtures encapsulated the hustle and bustle of the city. Posters in M. et Mme Galin devant le Jockey Club include announcements for events at the Paris Hippodrome and at Notre Dame, and a performance of Faust.
Monsieur Galin is portrayed as a refined man of his age, impeccably turned out, cigarette holder in hand, and with large, carefully groomed sideburns. Unlike many of Béraud's street scenes, the present work does not illustrate a cross-section of Paris society, but rather places the sitter completely in his own element, surrounded by passers by who seem equally at ease with their apparently gilded age.
(CHRISTIE’S)


La Modiste Sur Les Champs Elysees
Oil on canvas
Private collection
From ARC


Home, Driver !
Oil on panel
Private collection
From ARC


A Morning Stroll
Oil on canvas
Private collection
From ARC


Leaving the Opera
Oil On Board
Private collection
From ARC


Le Bal Mabile
Oil on panel
Private collection
From ARC


Jeune femme traversant le boulevard
Oil on panel
Private collection
From ARC


Personnages
Oil on board
Private collection
From ARC


Les Halles
Oil on canvas, c. 1879
On display in: Haggin Room
THE HUGGIN MUSEUM


Les Halles (above) is one of Béraud's early street scenes, for which he was famous in the 1880s. So precise is his rendition that this spot can be located on a map. It shows the central market of Paris, Les Halles, on the left and the church of Sainte-Eustache (built 1532-1637) on the right, viewed from the rue Baltard where it meets the pointe Sainte-Eustache. Les halles, one of the splendid Second Empire projects, was designed by Victor Baltard and employed the most advanced construction technology of the time, iron and glass. "The belly of Paris, " as the market was called by Emile Zola, was one of the symbols of the city's modernity.
The produce market next to the enclosed sheds is alive with activity and brightly colored vegetables. As is usual in Béraud's painting, a pretty woman in fashionable dress is an important focal point. The artist's attention to the individuality and movements of the other customers and workers reveals differences in character and behaviour, while class distinctions are clearly indicated by clothing. The confrontation of the hefty peasant woman and top-hatted gentleman, to the left, and the maid of a few steps behind her mistress, in the center, are cases in point.
Beyond the market itself, Béraud offers glimpses of the bustling streets, where pedestrians mingle with horse-drawn vehicles. In the center is an omnibus, a mode of public transportation introduced to Paris some forty years earlier.
Like the Impressionists, Béraud was interested in showing specific time and place. This, upper-class people wear the latest fashions, trees are sparsely leafed, suggesting early spring, and umbrellas are held, some open, some closed, implying that a light rain has just ended or is just begining.
(THE HUGGIN MUSEUM)


On the Boulevard, Paris
Oil on Canvas, c. mid1880s
On display in: Haggin Room
THE HUGGIN MUSEUM


On the Boulevard, Paris (above) is one of Béraud's many scenes of Paris's fashionable Right Bank. The presence of the eighteenth century Pavillion de Hanovre on the left (then the showplace of the prestigious metalwork firm of Christofle) identifies this view of the broad sidewalks that lined the boulevard de Italiens. The artist indicated the precise location and depicts women in fashions of the mid-1880s- hats, hairstyles, and the short, bustled walking skirt of the woman in the foreground. The newspaper kiosk with its advertising column in the background is also typical of Parisian sidewalks in the late nineteenth century. To give an additional sense of immediacy, Béraud has borrowed the Impressionist device of abruptly cropping figures.
The artist does not limit himself to recording such specific details. He also shows the kind of human comedies played out daily on the streets of the French capital. Here a young woman on the right saucily lifts her skirt, exposing shapely ankles and a patch of petticoat, to the delight of a sharp-eyed policeman. Béraud makes a contrast with this flirtatious interlude by juxtaposing two proper gentleman politely greeting one another. Farther back, one notices quite different kinds of individuals representing the varied life of modern Paris: a bearded tourist with guidebook, a running messenger boy, a woman examining Christofle's shiny display, and a morose worker.
NOTE: The Pavillion de Hanovre was torn down and reconstructed in the park at Sceaux in 1930.
(THE HUGGIN MUSEUM)


La Pierrette
Oil on panel
Private collection
From ARC


Harlequine
Oil on Panel , c. 1890
On display in: McKee Room
THE HUGGIN MUSEUM


In the 1890s, Béraud departed (like so many artists and writers at this time) from his earlier naturalism in favor of more symbolic content, as if discontented with mere surface appearances. He did not totally renounce street scenes, but he experimented with new subjects, such as his contemporized versions of biblical stories and costume pieces like Harlequine (above), in which a single figure is the sole focus of the painting.
This conventionally pretty woman is dressed for costume ball as the female counterpart of the stock figure Harlequin. Her costume adopts elements of the traditional commedia dell'arte character: the diamond pattern, the bicorne hat, the stage sword whose harmlessness is coquettishly demonstrated by the model. But Béraud discards the half-mask so that her porcelain-smooth profile is fully visible. The traditional multicolored costume is exchanged for stylish pink and black.
Elegant she may be, but she is also a vivacious cocotte. Béraud emphasizes her desirability through her coy behavior and exposed legs. Her painfully tight corset, which achieves the fashionable 18-inch waist, adds to her seductive charms.
On at least three occasions, Béraud painted contemporary women in the same harlequin costume seen in the Haggin painting. One appeared on the cover of the April 1890 Figaro illustre, suggesting at least a beginning date for the series. According to one source, a work entitled L'Arlequine was exhibited at the Salon de la Societe nationale des Beaux-Arts in 1891.
(THE HUGGIN MUSEUM)
The latter years of his life were plagued by ill health. Prone to depression and physical exhaustion, his commissions became more and more rare after the outbreak of World War I. He began to paint less and his images lacked the vibrancy of his earlier period. Paul Leroi wrote that “M. Jean Béraud started out by painting his contemporaries, a task he performed with taste and wit. Now, however, he is inking deeper and deeper into the morass, having unfortunately taken a wrong turn some years ago.” (quoted in Offenstadt, Jean Béraud, pg. 10) He died in Paris on October 4, 1935. He is now buried in Montparnasse cemetery.
(Rehs GALLERIES.INC)


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