JEAN BÉRAUD: THE BELLE ÉPOQUE PAINTER OF PARICIAN LIFE

Evocating the glory of the bygone Parisian life during the period of Belle Époque, the paintings of Russian-born French painter, Jean Béraud, are best known for their impressionistic depiction of cosmopolitan Paris. Celebrated as a successful commercial painter, Béraud was born in St Petersburg to French parents on January 12, 1849. After the death of his sculptor father, Béraud moved to Paris with his family at the age of four.

 After the end of Franco-Prussian war in 1872, Béraud went on to study under Leon Joseph Bonnat. He first exhibited  in Paris Salon in 1873 and continued to show his faithful renditions of  High Society Paris at the Salon until 1889. The same year he became a founder of the Societé National des Beaux-Arts and remained its secretary until 1913.

Influenced by Edgar Degas and Claude Monet, Béraud's  painting style shifted from academic to impressionism. His use of light and fluency of brushwork shows a debt to impressionists, however, unlike their landscapes, Béraud depicted the urban life. Béraud’s painting are remarkable for representing the truth based humour and mockery of late 19th century Parisian life, along with frequent appearances of biblical characters in then contemporary situations.

Béraud was created Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur in 1887 and an officer in 1892. Due to a general lack of interest in Belle Époque painters after the World War l, Béraud was largely forgotten at the time of his death. Producing about 500 paintings in his long life, the unmarried painter was died on October 4, 1935, in Paris and buried in Montparnasse Cemetery beside his mother.

Today, Béraud's works are in collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Louvre Museum, Paris, The Metropolitan Museum of Arts in New York and the National Gallery in London, among others.

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