French School,XIXth century (XVIIth century style)

Oil painting on canvas, modern frame in the Louis XV style
100 x 124 cm
Date of entry at UNESCO
Donating country France
Artwork included in the global donation made to UNESCO of the Château Bois du Rocher (France) by the Aschberg family in 1956, and included in the Collection following the auction held in 1993.
© Photo: UNESCO/ N. Burke
All rights reserved

Although the date and author are unknown, this 19th century work evokes the influence of the 17th century realist painters, such as the Le Nain brothers, thanks to its style and composition. Artists showed a new interest for the lower classes during this period and depicted the lifestyle, activities and clothing of this social class in their works. They turned away from History painting in order to represent intimate scenes from everyday life. Hence, by depicting the intimacy of the lives of those that they paint, these artists expressed a renewed interest for Dutch painting of the Golden Age.

In this work, attention is given to domestic life and more specifically female activities. The figures represented here, a mother surrounded by her children, are simply dressed, in the peasant style. The scene objectively illustrates the reality of peasant life at the time, without a hint of criticism or mockery. The palette of primarily brown and dark earth tones used for the painting makes the figures’ faces stand out in contrast. By depicting this scene from everyday life on a neutral background against which the women’s gaze and marked facial traits of all three figures stand out thanks to the play of light, the artist manages to capture the spectator’s attention.

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