LE NAIN brothers
(b. 1598/1610, Laon, d. Louis and Antoine: 1648, Mathieu: 1677, Paris)
Landscape with Peasantsc. 1640
Oil on canvas, 47 x 57 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington
This painting belongs to a group of the finest and most original compositions by the Le Nain brothers with which the name of Louis had long been associated. Among the small group of outdoor scenes by the Le Nain brothers, this is perhaps the only true landscape. Even the comparable Landscape with Peasants and a Chapel (Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford), the focus is on the figures in the foreground, who largely block the view into the distance. In the Landscape with Peasants, on the other hand, the crisply drawn and strongly individuated figures take second place to the compelling view of open fields and sky. Many writers have remarked on Le Nain's independence from both the convention of classical landscape made famous by Claude Lorrain and Poussin and the formulas of the naturalistic Dutch landscape painters.