Parisienne un jour de pluie, place de la Concorde signed 'Jean Béraud' (lower left) oil on canvas 35 x 25 cm. (13 3/4 x 9 3/4 in.)
Provenance: Lady Jane Abdy, London; private collection by 1964.
Literature: Offenstadt, Patrick, Jean Béraud 1849-1935, Catalogue Raisonné, Taschen Wildenstein Institute, Köln, 1999, p.128, no. 94, illus. p.129
The present lot was painted in the early 1890s, at the height of Jean Bérauds career, when the artist was an active member of the French cultural scene. In 1891, he joined the jury panel of the Salon de lart libre, eager to encourage the next generation of French artists. A regular participant of the exhibitions at La Nationale until 1913, Béraud was also a founding member of the Société nationale des beaux-arts and from 1893 to 1895, he held the position of Vice-President for the painting section of the selection committee. During this period of active involvement in the nurturing and administration of the capitals art community, Béraud continued to paint the bustling Parisian scenes which had made his reputation.
The present lot is a wonderful example of the artists work. Setting the viewpoint high in the upper third of the canvas, Béraud fixes the young Parisiennes gaze at the viewers first glance. The complicity shared between the fashionable girl and the on-looker will only last a fugitive moment, as the girls feet indicate an instantaneous swivel of the body about to return to its original position. Towards her, a man with a top hat steps into the square, friend or stranger. The drizzle of a rainy day has emptied the Place de la Concorde of its usual bustle of people, carriages and cars; the city emerges from its own imposing architecture, with decorative streetlights, spires and flags piercing the grey skies above. Wrapped in her own assortment of grey tonalities, the young girl stands in the middle of this open space as a magnet, drawing to herself the horizontal bands of the urban setting receding in the background. The figure, so elegantly adorned with crimson accessories to highlight the tinted lips, dominates all planes of the canvas, transforming this view of an urban space into the portrait of a resident in front of her property. The capital belongs to its city dwellers, and Béraud cannot portray the one without the other.
We are grateful to Patrick Offenstadt for his assistance in preparing this catalogue entry.