Born in St Petersburg in 1849, the son of a French Sculptor, Jean Béraud moved to Paris to complete his law studies at the Lycée Bonaparte. After completing his military service Béraud entered the studio of Léon Bonnat where he studied for two years. He first exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1873 and continued to show his works publicly until 1929. Béraud’s paintings were inspired by modern life and genre scenes. His work owes something to the new art of photography, which induced greater realism and new compositional devices, Béraud’s unique realism is both subtle and elegant.
Béraud's work was greeted with great enthusiasm and he was welcomed into Parisian society receiving many commissions for portraits from famous figures such as the Prince d'Orleans and Prince Troubetskoy. He attended many of the evening soirees arranged by the popular hostesses of the time and frequently depicted these scenes in his paintings.
Closely allied with the Impressionists, Béraud would hold lengthy aesthetic discussions with his friend Edouard Manet. He frequented the same cafés, restaurants and theatres as Dégas, Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec but although his work is imbued with the spirit of Impressionism he appears to combine this with the more classically accepted styles of the day to create works with a unique character.
Jean Béraud was founding member and vice president of the Sociéte Nationale des Beaux Arts, where he exhibited between 1910 and 1929. He was awarded a gold medal from the Society of French Artists in 1889 and a gold medal at the Universal Exhibition in 1889. Following his death in 1936 the Musée Carnavalet held a retrospective of his work.
The work of Jean Béraud is represented in museums in Liège, Lille, Tours and Troyes, France.