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

The Village Piper

Oil on copper, 23 x 31 cm
Institute of Arts, Detroit

Modern scholarship has revealed that there is no sufficient information to differentiate between the works of the three Le Nain brothers, Louis, Antoine and Mathieu, and prefers instead to consider their work thematically under the surname of Le Nain. This small painting on copper illustrates one of the themes for which the Le Nain brothers were famous: a genre scene without a specific narrative content representing a street musician surrounded by urchins. The subject is surprising if one considers French painting of the seventeenth century primarily as the reflection of the grandiose taste of the royal court. Such intimate works were nevertheless executed in response to a growing demand from an appreciative middle-class clientele.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.