a movie still of 1880s Parisian street life – the work of French artist Jean Béraud

While we often think of the work of the Impressionists in the second half to the 19th century, there were more realistic painters and many of these had a huge following.

One such artist was Jean Béraud (1849-1935) whose work I really like.  Many of his paintings are like movie stills: you can pick out the subjects, see their daily activities and in some cases, even imagine what each is thinking as they go about their busy day.
So, the butcher in his white apron carries his ware over his head; a smartly dressed young woman hurries home with a new hat while glancing at another young woman in an apron carrying a basket – two women of different classes on very different errands.  I love that although the outfits have changed and cars have replaced the carriages on the Boulevard de Sebastopol, those in the 19th century don’t appear that different than we are!
Béraud was known to work en plein air, sitting with his sketchbook for hours capturing the bustling activity of the streets.  The present painting depicts the Tour Saint-Jacques in Paris.  The tower, what remains of the once mighty Church of Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie, stands just a stone’s throw from Les Halles and incredibly the view remains largely unchanged today.
At auction, one never knows what will happen, but given its mastery of depiction and wonderful presence, it wouldn’t surprise me if it found a very, very chic home.
image credits: Sotheby’s. 19th Century European Art, New York, Lot 4. Jean Béraud, La Tour Saint Jacques, signed, oil on canvas, 22.1/2 x 15.3/8 in | 57 x 39 cm. Estimate US$400-000 – 600,000. To be sold 8 November 2012. Viewing 2-7 November 2012.
Thank you for stopping by and reading my feature today.  I love what I do as an interior designer and art advisor, and it’s my hope that through these blog posts I’m enriching and heightening your aesthetic sensibility towards art, design and fabulous interiors in some way ~ Richard Rabel (a.k.a. the modern sybarite)