The work of Jean Beraud was recently brought to my attention by a member of the Recollections team and I am so glad that it was! For the past several days I have been scouring the internet to find examples of his late Victorian and Belle Epoque paintings and enjoying every minute. His art is an in-the-moment look at French life during the time period, with a focus on fashion that I think our readers will enjoy.
Jean Beraud was born in 1849 and while he is now known for his truly French scenes, he was born in Saint Petersburg. As with most of the artists I have featured on this blog, Beraud was born to an artistic father, in this case, a sculptor. It is believed that when Jean was born his father was working on none other than Saint Isaac’s Cathedral.
The study of art began at an early age for Jean and he would enjoy what many artists seek; a career creating. He studied under Leon Bonnat, one of the most provocative and well-known painters of the time. He originally began as a classical artist but then evolved into Impressionism. Says Daily Art Magazine:
“Béraud painted many scenes of Parisian daily life during the Belle Époque. Originally he painted in the academic style but he gradually shifted to Impressionism. That is, he incorporated realism and satire into his paintings. In particular, his mockery of Parisian societies aroused great controversy. Also, he loosened his brushstrokes, connecting to the Impressionist technique.”
Unfortunately, to the non-art historian eye, it is hard to pick up on the mockery of Parisian society that Daily Art mentions. What I do pick up on it the pride that people took in their appearance and the way that a person can get isolated when moving about a large city surrounded by people.
I have broken Jean Beraud’s work unto four categories: portraits, cityscapes, nightlife, and daily life. Below are my favorites of each (and I have so-far found!).
Daily Parisian life (plus my favorite Jean Beraud painting!)
Isn’t it hard to imagine people getting so dressed up on a daily basis? During the Belle Epoque, they certainly put a lot of effort into each outfit!