Scenes of everyday life
The three Le Nain brothers – Louis, Antoine, and Mathieu – are some of the most enigmatic figures in the history of art. Born in Picardy, Northern France, between about 1600 and 1607, the brothers spent most of their working lives in Paris, collaborating so closely that their individual hands cannot be distinguished.
The Le Nains are best known for their small-scale portraits and intimate scenes of peasant life. They began painting these peasant scenes around 1640, when Dutch and Flemish pictures of similar subjects started to arrive in Paris. So strong were the similarities that some paintings by the Le Nains were later misattributed to Dutch artists.
In the 18th century, the taste for paintings of everyday life by artists such as Jean-Siméon Chardin (whose work is also on view in this room) reignited interest in the Le Nain brothers. Today they are recognised as part of the great French tradition of Realist painting.