Rembrandt, Harmensz van Rijn, The Return of the Prodigal Son, 1636
Harmensz van Rijn Rembrandt, Etching, The Return of the Prodigal Son, 1636
|Artist:||Rembrandt, Harmensz van Rijn (1606 - 1669)|
|Title:||The Return of the Prodigal Son, 1636|
|Image Size:||6 in x 5 ¼ in (15.2 cm x 13.3 cm)|
|Sheet Size:||6 in x 5 ¼ in (15.2 cm x 13.3 cm)|
|Framed Size:||approx. 23 in x 21 in (58.4 cm x 53.3 cm)|
|Signed:||Signed and dated in the plate in the center of the lower edge 'Rembrandt f. 1636.'|
|Edition:||According to Nowell-Usticke, this work is a State IV (of IV) impression; Biörklund State III (of III); White & Boon State III (of III); Hind State III (of III).|
|Condition:||This work is in excellent condition.|
|Gallery Price: |
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The New Testament story of the prodigal son details the relationship of a father to his two sons. Coming to his father, the younger son asks for his share of his inheritance and sets off. Within short order, he squanders his money and finds himself living in a pig pen, where the animals eat better than he. When he returns home to ask his father's forgiveness, his father welcomes him and celebrates, sparking the elder son's jealousy. He complains that he never received comparable attention even though he stayed home and respected his father. The father responds, "But it was appropriate to celebrate and be glad, for this, your brother, was dead, and is alive again. He was lost, and is found" (Luke 15:32). This theme of spiritual rebirth and redemption captivated Rembrandt, who created several graphic works after the story.
Most celebrated is his life-size oil painting after the subject, completed near the end of his life and now hanging in the Hermitage, St. Petersburg. Both painting and etching evoke an aching sense of compassion. In our print, the viewer occupies a place inside the scene; the open composition invites us to mount the stairs leading up to the reunited family members. Rembrandt's mastery lies in his ability to capture profound human experience.
Created in 1636, this original etching is signed and dated in the plate in the lower center 'Rembrandt f. 1636.' According to Nowell-Usticke, this work is a IV (of IV) impression; Biörklund State III (of III); White & Boon State III (of III); Hind State III (of III).
1. Accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from Gallery Supply in Atlanta,
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Biography of Harmensz van Rijn Rembrandt
Rembrandt was born in Leiden and died in Amsterdam. He was the son of a miller and a baker's daughter, and was originally intended to become a scholar. He went to Latin School and then enrolled at the University of Leiden. After only a year he left to become apprenticed from 1622 to 1624 to a mediocre Leiden painter, Jacob van Swanenburgh. More important for his artistic development, however, was the short period of about six months that he spent training under Pieter Lastman in Amsterdam. In 1625 he began a working association with his friend Jan Lievens in Leiden, finally moving to Amsterdam in 1631/32. In the history of Dutch painting this date represents an important milestone, as Rembrandt was to become the incomparable representative of Amsterdam art. He soon established himself in Amsterdam, received many commissions and opened a large workshop. In 1634 he married Saskia, a lawyer's daughter, who brought a considerable dowry into the marriage.
In 1639 he bought a large house, never quite paid for, which he filled with works of art and curios. Soon his passion for collecting exceeded his finances. In 1642, the year he painted "The Night Watch" Saskia died, and from 1649 he lived with Hendrickje Stoffels whom he could not marry without losing Saskia's legacy to their son Titus. In 1656 he went bankrupt, and his house and all possessions were put up for compulsory auction. Rembrandt spent his final years in poverty and isolation in rooms on the outskirts of Amsterdam, his powers of creation undiminished.
Rembrandt was the most universal artist of his time and he influenced painting for half a century, irrespective of schools or regional style. From his many fields of activity his pupils developed their own specialties, ranging from trompe l'oeil painting to the very detailed Leiden style. Unlike most Dutch painters of the time, who worked in fairly narrow fields, Rembrandt depicted almost every type of subject.
Although Amsterdam's leading portraitist for a decade ("Jan Six", Amsterdam, Foundation Six), also doing group portraits (The Staalmeesters," he was a painter of numerous biblical scenes ("The Sacrifice of Isacc," St. Petersburgh, Hermitage), of the mythological works works ("Philemon and Baucis", Washington, National Gallery) and landscapes ("Landscape in Thunders Brunswik, Herzog-Utrich-Museum) as well at life. In his work, branches of painting often overlapped, as for example in the group portrait "The Night Watch," where he took liberties with a number of rules. Rembrandt's fame rests on his continual development of pictorial devices and unvarying excellence of execution (unlike the works of Rubens, man which were left in part to workshop routine), a well as on his brilliant handling of light and shade and his ability to suggest states of mind through facial expression.
Apart from his greatness as a painter he was a powerful draughtsman and etcher. About 300 of these Rembrandt etchings survive. In this field he extended the technique and artistic possibilities, for example introducing the chiaroscuro effect, raising it to an art for in its own right. Amongst his approximately 15 drawings, the landscape scenes are particularly captivating in their serenity and harmony. Rembrandt's The Hundred Guilder Print is one of his most valuable and sought after etchings.