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The Return of the Prodigal Son, the 5th 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, 1922.214.171.124
FILIUS DEPERDITUS ROVERTITUR AD PATREM PETENS VENIAM / EL HIJO PRODIGO VOLVE A SU PADRE PIDIENDO PERDON
The lost son returns to his father asking for pardon / The prodigal son returns to his father asking forgiveness
The fifth scene depicts the Prodigal as he humbly returns to his father’s house, prepared to ask forgiveness and plead to work as a servant. This cityscape loosely parallels the composition of the second etching, The Prodigal Son’s Departure, though the space previously given to street is now part of the stepped terrace. Within the series—and perspective views generally—space functions theatrically, as a setting to be arranged for the optimal effect.
The Prodigal is greeted by an overjoyed father, eager to welcome his son back home with open arms. The father’s stance mirrors typical depictions of Christ as the Good Shepherd, welcoming the return of his flock. Father and son are surrounded by happy friends and relatives, also eager to greet the Prodigal. To the immediate left of the son, another young man, presumably the bitter older brother, casts a scornful glance as he turns away from the homecoming. To the far right, a young woman gestures the Prodigal towards the entryway, where a fine new coat and tricorn are brought to replace his missing cloak and battered hat. On the far left, a servant gathers up a fatted calf, while another carries bread—preparations are already underway for the celebratory feast.
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.