Le Nain (lə năN) [key], family of French painters consisting of three brothers: Antoine Le Nain, 1588?–1648, Louis Le Nain, 1593?–1648, and Mathieu Le Nain, 1607–77. They went to Paris from Laon c.1629 and were admitted to the Académie royale at the time of its foundation in 1648. It is believed that much of their work was done in collaboration. Antoine excelled in painting colorful miniatures of family scenes. Mathieu became painter to the city of Paris in 1633 and specialized in portraiture and in depicting the city militia. Louis is credited with the conception of the famous Le Nain genre scenes of peasant life. At a time when allegorical compositions in France were the rule, these pictures are unique in the choice of peasants as subject matter, treated sympathetically and realistically, and yet arranged in almost classical compositions. Among the paintings by the Le Nain brothers may be cited The Forge and Peasants' Repast (Louvre) and Portrait Group (National Gall., London).
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