Friday, June 30, 2017

Jean Béraud's Windy Paris

Jean Béraud (1848-1935) loved to paint Paris on windy days.

Wind is invisible, but its effects are not. A woman's hat boxes swing to the side. Skirts and jackets flap to the side. People grab their hats so they don't blow over into the Seine.

A contemporary critic wrote, "Paris is Jean Beraud's passion, his mistress, his idol. He knows and loves it in every corner. He has studied it in its splendor, and its squalor, flitting from the salons of the Faubourg St. Germain to the dives of the Rue Mouffetard, and from the green-rooms of its theatres to its prisons, its churches, and its boulevards."

Unlike many academic realists, he wasn't interested in imaginative paintings: "Jean Beraud doesn't care 'a fig for saints, nymphs, fauns, and Virgins! 

He would give them all for that work-girl tripping across the road with a bandbox in her hand, or for one group in a Montmartre cabaret. No classicism for Jean Beraud. Give him the Boulevard and you may keep the Colosseum."

"'Nothing if not modern' is Jean Beraud's device. He is modern himself. His studio is modern. His pictures are modern." 
Quotes are from "The Illustrated American," 1890
Jean Béraud on Wikipedia


Pierre Fontaine said...

Of course, choosing to paint such a subject is quite magical because it illustrates the effect of wind which by its very nature can't be captured by paint on canvas, or even on film because it's something that can only be felt. You see these paintings and you immediately draw upon your own sense memory of the sensation of wind disrupting your movements to fill in the blanks. Very interesting choice of subject matter!

Lou said...

I'll venture that examples #1 and #4 in your post are self portraits of Mr. Beraud admiring the beautiful young sights of Paris (although chronologically it appears example #1 seems to be an older Beraud than #4). Pure speculation of course.

Pyracantha said...

There is a flirtatious and probably erotic story behind each one of these paintings.

Susan Krzywicki said...

"'Nothing if not modern' is Jean Beraud's device. He is modern himself. His studio is modern. His pictures are modern."

What did his studio look like? Why was it considered so modern? I'd love to see it!

James Gurney said...

Susan, your wish is my command! I added a photo of J.B. in his studio.

Pyracantha, I bet you're right. Seeing an ankle would be highly arousing in those days, and wind has a way of blowing skirts upward.