This lively Paris street scene, set in the early hours of evening, shows the end of a busy work day at the famous Paris fashion house, the Maison Paquin located at 51 Rue de la Paix (fig. 1). Several young seamstresses are shown leaving the building while one may also catch a glimpse of some elegant Parisiennes, perhaps clad in the latest designs of Madame Paquin. In its day, the Maison Paquin rivalled the great House of Worth. Madame Paquin's clients ranged from the Queens of Belgium, Portugal and Spain to the mistresses of the Prince of Wales and the famous courtesans Liane de Pougy and La Belle Otéro. At the peak of her success, Madame Paquin employed over two thousand workers, while most other fashion houses included only fifty to four hundred employees.
The Maison Paquin would have appealed to Béraud as a subject for a major painting as no other artist chronicled Parisian life at the end of the 19th Century as he did, and the Maison Paquin, with its famous reputation for the best in fashion, represented the Paris that Jean Béraud captured with the accuracy of a camera lens (fig. 2).
(fig. 1) Entrance to Maison Paquin, c. 1900.
(fig. 2) Maison Paquin Façade, c. 1930.