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

Portrait of Hippolyte Taine

Jean Béraud (French, 1849-1936)
Portrait of Hippolyte Taine
signed and dedicated 'à Mr Bourdeau/souvenir amical/Jean Béraud’ (centre right)
oil on panel
18 1/8 x 14 7/8 in. (46.3 x 37.8 cm.)
Mme. Bourdeau, Paris.
Her sale ; Paris, Drouot, 13 March 1974, lot 60.
Private collection.
Brisson, 'À travers la quinzaine’, La Revue illustrée, 15 March 1893, p. 255 (illustrated).
P. Offenstadt, Jean Béraud 1849-1935, The Belle Epoque: A Dream of Times Gone By, Catalogue Raisonné, Cologne, 1999, p. 260, no. 342 (illustrated).
Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, Exposition du 3e Centenaire de l’Académie Française, 1935, no. 244.
Paris, Musée Carnavalet, Jean Béraud. Peintre de la vie Parisienne, 1936-1937, no. 35.

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Lot Essay

Jean Béraud is best known for his boulevard scenes of Belle Époque Paris, which combined a sense of panache with an acute eye for anecdotal detail, but in which figures are often rendered as stock types. His portrait of the great French critic and historian Hippolyte Taine, however, is unusually penetrating. A study for his group portrait, La Salle de redaction du “Journal des débats” (The Editorial Room of the “Journal des Débats), in which Taine is depicted alongside other pre-eminent French intellectuals, here he is seated in profile against a plain background which highlights his thoughtful features, captured as if in casual conversation, a cigarette dangling from his right hand. Béraud presents a spontaneous and sympathetic image of a man who is both engaging and distinguished, as hinted by flash of colour the Legion d’Honneur pin on his lapel, and his wire-rimmed spectacles.

Jean Bourdeau (1848-1928), to whom the painting is dedicated, also featured in the same group portrait; he was a friend of Béraud’s and a regular contributor to the “Journal des Débats”.

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