Le Nain, The Brothers
Antoine (born c. 1588 in Laon, Picardy; died May 25, 1648, in Paris),
Louis (born c. 1593 in Laon; died May 23, 1648, in Paris),
and Mathieu (born c. 1607 in Laon; died Apr. 20, 1677, in Paris [?]). French painters.
Louis, who had been Antoine’s pupil, was influenced by Caravaggism in the 1630’s. He primarily painted scenes of peasant life; his figures are serious and full of dignity. The clear emotional tone of his paintings resulted from plastic completeness of form, an evocative silvery gray palette, and precise composition that was often based on a motif of expectancy. Louis imparted monumentality to ordinary events and sober importance to the figures of peasants yet at the same time preserved their lively characteristic traits (Return From Haying, 1641, Louvre; The Peasant Meal, 1642, Louvre; The Forge, Louvre; The Resting Horseman, 1640’s, Victoria and Albert Museum; The Milkmaid’s Family, 1640’s, Hermitage, Leningrad). Louis’ exalted treatment of nature resembles that of N. Poussin.
Mathieu painted scenes of peasant life during the early years of his career. He later primarily depicted scenes from the life of the nobility (The Backgammon Players, Louvre).