LE NAIN brothers
(b. 1598/1610, Laon, d. Louis and Antoine: 1648, Mathieu: 1677, Paris)

Peasant Interior

Oil on canvas, 56 x 65 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington

In the pictures of peasant interiors by the Le Nain brothers there is as much diversity as in the exterior scenes, and attempts have een made to group them round each of the brothers. The categories into which they have been divided make sense, even if no name can convincingly attached to each one. Closest to the Dutch models, especially to the art of Jan Miense Molenaer, is the group of peasant scenes painted on a minute scale. One of the best is the Peasant Interior in Washington, signrd 'Lenain fecit' and dated 1642.

Although exquisitely painted, the figures seem to be in a very curious spatial relationship with one another; the mother seems far too small and the children far too big. All their expressions are lively and alert and, as usual in Le Nain, they look in different directions, as if caught by surprise.