Le Nain family

   noted family of painters
   A family of 17th-century painters consisting of three brothers, Antoine (ca. 1588-1648), Louis (1593-1648), and Mathieu (1607-77). Known especially for their scenes of peasant life, they imbued their works with such affectionate realism that lesser forms of composition are overcome. Born in Laon, they were trained for a year by a "foreign painter," probably Flemish, whose identity remains unknown, then all the brothers moved to Paris by 1630. It is known that Antoine at that point had become the master painter of the church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. They established a studio that soon acquired a certain renown, and they received commissions from the aldermen of Paris. Although their paintings are signed only with their surname, each of the brothers is thought to have concentrated on one particular type of work. The specific authorship of many paintings, however, remains unclear. Louis, the most talented, used delicate colors, usually with silver and gray-green overtones. Mathieu most likely specialized in individual and group portraits, often of court figures. These portraits depart from his brothers' peasant scenes. Antoine probably was a miniaturist, painting small works with bright colors on wood or copper. All the works are characterized by dignity, simplicity, and a sense of seriousness, as in La Famille de Paysans (1640). The work of the brothers was almost forgotten until the 19th century, when gustave courbet revived their reputation and they became known as "painters of reality." Other paintings by the Le Nain brothers include La Nativité; Anne d'Autriche; Vénus dans la forge de Vulcan; Corps de Garde; Joueurs de trictrac; La Réunion de famille; Le Bénédicité; and La Charrette ou le Retour de la fenaison (1641), an exterior peasant scene.

France. A reference guide from Renaissance to the Present . 1884.

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