Artists Illustrating Boys' Fashions: Le Nain (17th century)


Figure 1.--The Nain brothers did not do many portraits of children, however, there are quite a number of boys in the many paintings executed by the brothers, such as the boy to the right here. I'm am not sure just what is being depicted in this painting. It appears to be aeasant family.

Le Nain (the Dwarf) is the name used by three French brothers: Antoine (about 1588-1648), Louis (about 1593-1648) and Mathieu (about 1607-77). They began working in Paris during 1629. The brothers became members of the l'Académie Royale of painting and sculpture. This was the year the Academy was founded and the tear that Antoine and Louis died. They form part along with [? Georges de la Tour] of the realist artists, strongly influenced by reality "clair-obscur" of Caravage. The brothers formed an association and signed without their first (Christian) which makes it rather difficultto attribute their works to one of the three brothers.

The Brothers

Le Nain (the Dwarf) is the name used by three French brothers: Antoine (about 1588-1648), Louis (about 1593-1648) and Mathieu (about 1607-77). They began working in Paris during 1629. The brothers formed an association and signed without their first (Christian) which makes it rather difficult to attribute their works to one of the three brothers. Even eminent art historians have difficult discriminating between the brothers nd the about 60 works attributed to them.

The Acedemy

The brothers became members of the l'Académie Royale of painting and sculpture. This was the year the Academy was founded and the year that Antoine and Louis died.

Realism

They form part along with [? Georges de la Tour] of the group of painters of the realists, strongly influenced by reality "clair-obscur" tecniques of Caravaggio (Caravage).

Works

The Nain addressed several different themes.

Religion

One important theme was religion which was still of considerable importance in the 17th century. These include "Nativity of the Virgin" and "Our-Lady of Paris".


Figure 2.--The Nain brothers here mainted a scene at a black smith's forge. Notice the boy wearing a padded vest and redish shirt. Notice the other two boys at the left.

Genre works

We also notice genre paintings, small scenes of everyday life: "the Old player of flageolet" and "players of trictrac". The Nain are reponsible for many important scenes of country life, these are some of the most realistic depictions of peasant life: "the Family of peasants", "Meal of Peasants", "the Forging mill", "Charette", "the Family of Laiti?re", etc. These scenes of country life are very interesting. They show the clothing of poor people and peasants in great detail. These are the first realistic images of the French peasantry. Their clothing is made of flax, hemp and bure (bore-hole--coarse wool weaving). In most of the Nain genre paintings there are children included, although normally not the focus of the work. These paintings do, however, provide many depictions of children and the clothes they wore.

Portraits

The Nain did many important portraits: "Mazarin", "Anne of Austria". We notice one portrit of Louis XIV surrounded by the youths of the courl in elaborate Cavelier outfits. Another portrait shows Louis XIV and his Minister Colbert.

French Canadian Art

A Canadian reader tells us, "About "Les frères LeNain¨, a book is to be written on the influence of them on French Canadian painting during "le Régime Français" Jesuits and many religious orders came here with paintings which were copied. There was a real cult for Holy Angels and church sculptures and paintings were full of angels. Understandable when you remember the high rate of birth deaths. But many travellers observed how children in Québec were healthy because it was possible to keep meat refrigerated during winter. No such a thing was possible in France or England."







HBC





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Created: December 2, 2002
Last updated: 7:51 AM 5/26/2009