The Brothers Le Nain: Painters of Seventeenth-Century France
Written by C. D. Dickerson III and Esther Bell, with contributions by Claire Barry, Emerson Boyer, Elise Effman Clifford, Don H. Johnson, Frédérique Lanoë, Nicolas Milovanovic, Alain Tallon, Colin Bailey, and Pierre Rosenberg
Published by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco in association with Yale University Press, New Haven and London
Active in Paris during the 1630s and 1640s, the brothers Antoine (c. 1598–1648), Louis (c. 1600/1605–1648), and Mathieu (c. 1607–1677) Le Nain created some of the most beautiful and enigmatic works of art in history. Painters of altarpieces, portraits, and allegories, they are most renowned for their mysterious scenes of peasants. Despite the brothers’ immense talents and extraordinary imaginations, they remain largely unknown today. Many important details of their lives and work continue to elude historians, just as they did in the nineteenth century, when the Le Nains first became the subject of scholarly inquiry.
The essays in this book address many of the questions that surround the brothers, including: Where and with whom did they train? What inspired them to undertake their paintings of the poor? Who were their clients and patrons? Perhaps the greatest riddle, however, is that of determining which brother created which painting or whether their practice was one of collaboration.
Featuring a catalogue of sixty-five of their best works with a diagram comparing their stylistic qualities, extensive entries, and lavish details, The Brothers Le Nain: Painters of Seventeenth-Century France presents new scholarship concerning the authorship, dating, and meaning of their art. Supplementing discussion of the works are the results of a systematic technical study of the paintings and new findings from seventeenth-century documents, which are offered here for the first time.
Published on the occasion of the first full-scale exhibition on the Le Nains in the United States, co-organized by the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, this is the first volume in the English language to offer a comprehensive assessment of these masterful and mysterious artists.
The Brothers Le Nain: Painters of Seventeenth-Century France is organized by the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and the Musée du Louvre-Lens. It is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.