Portraits in an Interior
Oil on copper
Musée du Louvre, Paris
The individualized faces and posed attitudes of the figures suggest that this is a group portrait rather than a genre picture. Still, this is not a conventional family portrait, as two social classes (and presumably two families) are represented. The seated woman with a spindle, the hatted man beside her, and the boy playing the flageolet are much more modestly dressed than the five standing, stylishly attired figures. The woman wearing pearls may be the mother, and the other could be a nursemaid. Is the commission rooted in the wealthier family’s affection for members of their household staff, perhaps a beloved couple and child who were responsible for tending to their estate? Or might the painting somehow reflect the Le Nains’ own family? The fireplace, including the items on the mantel, and the dog appear in other paintings, but such reuse of motifs was common practice.
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