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Jean Béraud (French, 1849-1936)
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Jean Béraud (French, 1849-1936)

Le boulevard Saint-Denis à Paris

Jean Béraud (French, 1849-1936)
Le boulevard Saint-Denis à Paris
signed and dated 'Jean Béraud/1899' (lower right)
oil on canvas
14 7/8 x 21 5/8 in. (38 x 55 cm.)
Painted in 1899.
Anonymous sale; Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 19 June 1989, lot 53.
Private Collection, France.
G. Coquiot, 'La vie artistique. Les Salons de mai', La Vogue, May 1899, p. 124.
Furetières, 'Le Salon de 1899, Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts', Le Soleil, May-June 1899, p. 2.
O. Uzanne, 'Les Salons du Champ-de-Mars, Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts', L'Écho de Paris, 1 May 1899.
E. Jungle, 'Le Salon de 1899, à la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts', La Nation, 2 May 1899, p. 2.
H. Renard, 'Le Salon', Le Voltaire, 24 May 1899, p. 2.
A. Dalligny, 'Les Salons de 1899, Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts', Le Journal des Arts, 24 June 1899, p. 2.
P. Offenstadt, Jean Béraud. 1849-1935. La Belle Époque, une époque rêvée, catalogue raisonné, Cologne, 1999, p. 100, no. 27 (illustrated).
Paris, Champ-de-Mars, Salon de la Société nationale des Beaux-Arts, 1 May-30 June 1899, no. 120.
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Lot Essay

Jean Béraud was born in St. Petersburg, where his father worked as a sculptor, probably one of the many foreign artists commissioned to work on the cathedral of St. Isaac, which was designed by the French-born architect, Auguste Montferrand.

Béraud studied under the Academic figure painter, Léon Bonnat, but quickly eschewed his master's idealised compositions for realistic depictions of Parisian life, in particular bustling street scenes. Like the watercolours of Constantin Guys, these works were illustrations of the modern age, which aimed to show the diversity of a modern city by throwing contrasts - of rich and poor, old and new - into stark relief.

In the present work, for example, the porte Saint-Denis, built in 1672, stands incongruously against the modern boulevards of Baron Haussman, while tradesman rub shoulders with top-hatted members of the haute bourgeoisie. The artist's technique serves to further heighten the immediacy of the scene: the thin glazes accentuate the grey light of a wet day, and the short, lively brush strokes animate the composition.
The view in this work looks East from the end of boulevard Bonne-Nouvelle down boulevard Saint-Denis, with the arch of the Porte Saint-Denis on the left.

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