The Return of the Prodigal Son

The Return of the Prodigal Son

by Harmensz van Rijn Rembrandt

Type: Painting


Location: Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg


Story Summary

This painting depicts the famous heart warming parable taught by Jesus in the gospels of the prodigal son. The son had took his share of the inheritance before his father had died and spent it on wasteful living. Even though the son had disrespected him he still waited and watched for his son to return home. When the son finally returned he was greeted with love and forgiveness. As you can see the son had been through a lot in the painting from his torn garments and shoes.

In contrast you can also see in the shadows in the upper left his brother looking on with disgust. He had stayed and remained faithful to his father. He allowed bitterness to build inside him instead of hope. His jealousy would not allow him to be happy for his father and brother's reuniting


The painting is mostly earth tones (umber and sienna) with a few swatches of red. This gives a warm and powerful atmosphere. You can also see different expressions on each of the characters' faces. From a scowl to relief to love and nurture.

The position of the father's hands are also interesting to me. He isn't holding him like a child that needs help. Instead he is setting his hands on him and holding him close letting him know that he is welcomed back. He has a place to rebuild his life.

Bible Reference: Luke 15:11-32


View More by Harmensz van Rijn Rembrandt

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