Click to enlarge
The Prodigal Son’s Departure, the 2nd of 6 scenes, ca. 1784
Colored etching published by Giuseppe Remondini (1745–1811) in Bassano,
after a series of published by Georg Balthasar Probst, ca. 1770
Calvin College, 19126.96.36.199
VALE FILII DEPERDITI / LICENCIA DEL HIJO PRODIGO
Farewell, lost son / The prodigal son leaves
The second scene in the series depicts the young man as he prepares to set off from his father’s home, eager to depart with his wealth and journey to a distant land. An entourage of servants make last-minute preparations, outfit the horses, and ready the carriage. We are reminded of Phaeton’s carriage and his short-lived journey across the sky, from the ceiling of the previous scene. Whether intentional or happenstance, there is consistency of color between Phaeton’s green carriage wheel and the Prodigal’s green cart. Indeed, for all the hurried carelessness of the application of paint to the prints, color does in some cases help establish continuity from one image to the next.
In the scene, to the right, a sorrowful father and a tearful mother say goodbye to their son, who nods before heading to the carriage. At the left, a young man drinks from a large bottle as he waits for the trunks to be secured. Young women also mill about the scene, attending to the son with food and drink. The alcohol and female companions perhaps anticipate the luxury and overindulgence explored in the third installation.
Literature: Anton W. A. Boschloo, The Prints of the Remondinis: An Attempt to Reconstruct an Eighteenth-Century World of Pictures, translated by C. M. H. Harrison (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 1998), pp. 174–77.