This is one of Béraud’s many scenes of Paris’s fashionable Right Bank. The presence of the eighteenth century Pavillion de Hanovre on the left (then the showplace of the prestigious metalwork firm of Christofle) identifies this view of the broad sidewalks that lined the boulevard de Italiens. The artist indicated the precise location and depicts women in fashions of the mid-1880s- hats, hairstyles, and the short, bustled walking skirt of the woman in the foreground. The newspaper kiosk with its advertising column in the background is also typical of Parisian sidewalks in the late nineteenth century. To give an additional sense of immediacy, Béraud has borrowed the Impressionist device of abruptly cropping figures.
The artist does not limit himself to recording such specific details. He also shows the kind of human comedies played out daily on the streets of the French capital. Here a young woman on the right saucily lifts her skirt, exposing shapely ankles and a patch of petticoat, to the delight of a sharp-eyed policeman. Béraud makes a contrast with this flirtatious interlude by juxtaposing two proper gentleman politely greeting one another. Farther back, one notices quite different kinds of individuals representing the varied life of modern Paris: a bearded tourist with guidebook, a running messenger boy, a woman examining Christofle’s shiny display, and a morose worker.
NOTE: The Pavillion de Hanovre was torn down and reconstructed in the park at Sceaux in 1930.