The Prodigal Son, Rembrandt

The Prodigal Son, Rembrandt
The Prodigal Son, Rembrandt

During the 17th century there was a rupture within the Church that would shake its foundations from the depths. Perhaps it is not an exaggeration to venture that the Church as a foundation suffered the worst crisis in its entire history at that time due to to the split of a part of it that diversified towards Protestantism. In this way and how could it be otherwise, the artistic conception was also strongly influenced by the new Protestant doctrine. The work we are analyzing here, en titled The Return of the Prodigal Son, is an oil on canvas painting by one of the most influential artists of the Dutch Golden Age, Rembrandt.


Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606 -1669) is considered one of the most influential artists not only of the Baroque era but of art history in general. In his figure have come together not only the ability to recreate magnificent compositions through drawing but also to compose a realistic canvas through color. He worked both painting and engraving and although in his early years he was very successful, the history of the unfortunate painter became alive in the figure of Rembrandt, ending his days plunged into poverty and desolation.

The work we are analyzing here is an oil on canvas that the artist made around the year 1662, therefore it isone of his last piecesof him. This is a large format canvasvertical piece measuring about two meters wide and two and a half meters long that is currently exhibited in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg. The work was not claimed by any client at the death of the artist, which makes us suppose that Rembrandt created it on his own initiative.

This is a work of religious inspiration but as a consequence of the Protestant doctrine the artist has interpreted freely. It depictsthe parable of the prodigal sonin which a son returns to his father's arms after spending all his money. In the work, the prodigal son appears on his back and kneels in front of the viewer, showing us the soles of his feet that tell us about the long road he has traveled to return home. His father gives him a charitable welcome accompanied by his older brother and two other figures that have not been identified.

Popular topic