Jean Béraud, whose entire career was devoted to the realistic depiction of life in the French capital, did not shirk from painting the less than savoury aspects of Parisian life. The artist always tried to render a true reflection of life, painting beggars alongside the prosperous, and the fashionable alongside the mundane. In a review of the artist’s entry in the Salon of 1883, one critic described a painting "in which Béraud represents in his own - far from unintelligent - way, the decadent Parisians of today." (E. About, "Salon de 1883", Le XIX Siècle, 18 May 1883, p. 1).
Béraud certainly frequented the same cafés and other, perhaps less reputable establishments as his friends Édouard Manet, Edgar Degas and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. True to his vocation as the faithful reporter of all aspects of life in Paris, he did not limit his subject matter to just the fashionable boulevards and elegant soirées. As an artist concerned with capturing the realities of life in the French capital he would have also frequented the billiard hall so accurately depicted in the present lot.
La partie de billard is a remarkable example of the artist's ability to merge the contemporary invention of photography with the more traditional medium of oil painting. The present scene is cleverly constructed through intimate cropping, to place the spectator in the smoky billiard hall, creating the illusion of actual presence in this still in time.