The Nativity of the Virgin
Oil on canvas
Notre-Dame Cathedral, Paris
In the foreground, a wet nurse holds the infant Mary, while in the far background, the Virgin’s mother, Saint Anne, recuperates from the trials of labor, helped by two nursemaids. Mary’s father, Saint Joachim, looks on adoringly, joined by angels, including one who prepares a swaddling blanket. This is one of three altarpieces by the Le Nains that are recorded as hanging in Notre-Dame Cathedral before the end of the eighteenth century. By the mid-1630s—the presumed date of the painting—the brothers commanded the respect and possessed the talent necessary to be awarded such prestigious commissions.
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