Paris had become a glittering metropolis and a leading cultural centre by the last quarter of the 19th Century. Much of the city's restored high profile was due to the innovative and fresh designs of the great city planner Baron Haussmann. It was Napoleon III who bestowed on Hausmann powers to enable his vision, resulting in the broad, straight, tree-lined boulevards that are still so evident in today's modern Paris. It was Hausmann who joined the Tuileries Gardens to the Louvre, transformed the Bois de Boulogne into a fashionable park and built many of the still-existing twenty-eight bridges across the Seine.
Modern Paris provided an endless range of subjects for the new generation of artists, and much of Jean Béraud's career was spent capturing his observations of the city and its people. Béraud once wrote to Alfred Roll, 'I find everything but Paris wearisome'. He adored the city at all times of the year, in all weathers, day or night, indoors or out.
The scene depicted in the present painting can be easily identified: visible on the corner is the famous restaurant Maison Dorée which was always crowded and much loved by prominent playwrights, writers and composers. In addition we are able to approximate the date of this painting, for on the Morris Column outside the restaurant are posters listing recent and forthcoming events like Jules Massenet's El Cid -- which premiered at the Paris Opera on the 21 September 1885 -- and Mignon, an Opera in three acts composed by Ambroise Thomas, which celebrated its thousandth performance in the same year.
This painting celebrates busy cosmopolitan Parisian life and demonstrates Emile Bergerat's notion that 'the boulevards are not only the heart and head of Paris but also the soul of the entire world' (E. Bergerat,"Le Boulevard", L'Echo de la Semaine, 9 October 1892).