The bride and I just returned from a wonderful vacation in France this fall where we were privileged to see both the Louvre and Orsay Museums. Of the two, the Orsay was much better--less crowded, could get closer to the paintings, more cats.
This is the first of 4 posts on the art of the brothers Le Nain, Louis, Antoine, and Mathieu. More on the brothers next week; let's just enjoy this painting today.
Image credit Wikimedia Commons, Peasant Family in an Interior, Louis (or Antoine) Le Nain, 1643, oil on canvas, 44" x 62", held by The Louvre, Paris, France.
Frederic Vitoux and Elisabeth Foucart-Walter, authors of Cats in the Louvre, have this to say about the cat:
The funny little black-and-white cat with the symmetrical markings on his head has also turned up for roll call. Having forsaken the warmth of the fireplace of which members of his species are inordinately fond, he has settled down on the bare floor, in line with several kitchen utensils larger than him. The tip of his nose peeks out between an ladle and a glazed earthenware vessel on three feet whose lid seems to be acting as his shield.
The humans in the image seem so very, very serious, as though a death has just occurred in the family. Only the man in the hat seems to have any life in his eyes. Even the wide-eyed cat seems tentative and uneasy, as though waiting for another negative shoe to drop.
The painting itself is quite skillfully rendered. The earth tones, the dark background, the human expressions (or lack thereof!) all combine to set a somber, spare scene of a family just kinda hanging on. Yet the painting is surprisingly bright. Regardless, if Le Nain's intent was to portray life seeming to be a joyless grind, he certainly succeeded. Good thing they have a kitty!
[Gary note: With my Cats in Arts posts, I encourage you to scope out the art appreciation site Artsy (I have no financial interest in the site, I just like it), where you can explore many aspects of the world of art. You'll certainly be entertained and enlightened!]