Jean Beraud - Out of the Theatre (n.d.)
William A. Breakspeare - The End of the Evening (n.d.)
It would seem appropriate to conclude my December Double with ‘Out of the Theatre’ by French painter Jean Beraud and ‘The End of the Evening’ by English painter William A. Breakspeare.
‘Theatre’ takes an otherwise mundane subject and commits it to canvas with many subtle observations that might not immediately register to the viewer. I really enjoy the candid aspect of this piece, as well as the rich details found throughout the scene, notably the orchestra pit, the creases of the stage curtain, and the wonderfully rendered architectural elements of the theatre. As for the two gentlemen in the foreground, I love how they’re captured while putting on their overcoats, and Beraud’s marvelous brushwork lends convincing weight and strain to the fabrics.
While ‘Theatre’ could be described as informal and unassuming, 'Evening' feels more calculated and picturesque, tightly composed within a narrow frame. This piece conveys the weariness that often accompanies the aftermath of a party. Noting his smug expression, the gentleman sitting at the table (or possibly piano) appears satisfied with himself, finishing a glass of Champagne while enjoying his cigarette. His companion is obviously exhausted, and it’s interesting to note that her head is turned away from us, making it difficult for the viewer to identify with her. Though we can’t see her face, we are allowed to observe her hairstyle and adornments, affirming her inclusion in this piece, functioning as little more than a prop--perhaps on the same level as the roses seen scattered on top of the table. The entire painting appears orchestrated to assert the success and wealth of the man. While I don’t admire that chauvinistic sentiment, it does provide some interesting discussion.
I much prefer the scene in the background, that of two men standing over the dining table.