Jean Beraud (1849-1936)
La Danseuse 1873
oil on wood
20.4 x 13.6 cm
Bequest of Howard Hinton 1948
Born 1849, Saint Petersburg, Russia. Died 1935, Paris.
Born to French parents, Béraud’s father was a sculptor working on the site of St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St Petersburg when he was born. The family later moved to Paris where Béraud became a student of artist Léon Bonnat. Friends with Eduard Manet, Beraud painted scenes of Parisian daily life, capturing the bustling activity on the streets, intimate exchanges between people and glimpses into private worlds. His paintings include humour and gentle mockery and sometimes include biblical characters in contemporary situations. He was a successful and well-known painter in his time and is represented in the National Gallery, London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and numerous collections worldwide.
As this work was part of the bequest to the collection upon Hinton's death, it would have been one of the few works he chose to surround himself with in his small rented room. He purchased it prior to 1939, and generously lent it to the Society of Artist's exhibition in Sydney that year. This figure study of a ballerina at the start of La Belle Epoque is facing the viewer in a knee length tutu leaning back against the wall. Her feet are crossed at the ankles and she's wearing a black choker and golden bangle on each wrist. The eye is led from the red flower in her elaborate hairstyle, to the flower at the top of her bodice, to the red ballet slippers. The bouquet of red and white flowers on the ground in the left of the painting suggest she may have just finished a performance.