Béraud was born in Saint Petersburg but brought up in Paris after his father died in 1853. After he served in the Franco-Prussian war, he studied with the portrait painter Léon Bonnat for two years. Although his earliest works are portraits, Béraud soon took up the subject that would occupy him for the next two decades: the painting of modern life. Critics praised Béraud for his observations of the subject of contemporary life.
From 1876 Béraud exhibited in the annual Paris Salon. He won medals at the Salons of 1882 and 1883, a gold medal at the Universal Exposition of 1889, and the Legion of Honor in 1887 and 1894.
Béraud was as active socially as he was artistically. He was friends with artists and writers from Edouard Manet, Jules Worms (1832-1924), and Léon-Augustin Lhermitte (1844-1925) to Guy de Maupassant, and acted as a second for Marcel Proust in an 1897 duel. His paintings stand today as records of the cosmopolitan life of Paris at the end of the 1800s.