Louis Le Nain

Visit to Grandmother

Visit to Grandmother
(click image to zoom-in)
Author: Louis Le Nain
Genre Painting, Painting, Oil on canvas, 58x73sm
Origin: France, Circa 1645/1648

The Le Nain brothers - Louis, Antoine and Mathieu - were largely responsible for the introduction and popularity of genre subjects in French 17th-century painting. Although this painting still bears its traditional title, its subject has been variously identified and other titles suggested, including "Rural Musicians" and "Peasant Interior with a Boy Playing the Flute".

The scene shown here would have been not at all unusual in French village life: young musicians and singers went round the houses, earning money through playing simple tunes and singing folk songs. At the same time, one very popular theme in 17th-century art was the different ages of man: the children, the young woman with a child in her arms and the old woman should be seen as symbols of the unity of different generations. Le Nain's painting is majestically severe in composition, the figures are treated almost sculpturally, and the artist combines a realistic approach in the depiction of everyday details with a fine understanding of the different characters.

Source of entry: Collection of baron L.A. Crozat de Tierra, Paris, 1772

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