Louis Le Nain lived in a region to the north of Paris known for its open fields that produced cereals and grain. Although he settled in Paris with his two brothers, who were also painters, he produced a series of rural images that recall the landscape of his youth.
In the Landscape with Peasants, an old woman regards three children: a little girl dressed in white collar and cap, a small boy who plays the pipe, and a boy dressed in a cloak and hat who plays a hurdy-gurdy. In the middle ground several shepherds guard their sheep while the background is dominated by a townscape and rolling hills. The clear spacing of the figures and the interlocked planes of space linking land and sky reveal how precisely Le Nain organized his composition.
Their fitted clothes and shoes suggest that the children were not peasants but perhaps members of an emerging class of farmers acquiring land in the early decades of the century. Le Nain's emphasis on the land in this composition implies that the rich soil holds potential profits for these new landowners. The Le Nains' rural subjects were very popular, suggesting their patrons appreciated the agricultural messages encoded in the structure of the paintings.