The Return of the Prodigal Son, Rembrandt Van Rijn
The artist Rembrandt Harmenszoon Van Rijn, known simply as Rembrandt in the world of art, is recognized for many of his works including some of his own self-portraits, but the most famous of all Rembrandt paintings are his two Prodigal Son paintings. One of those paintings is called “The Prodigal Son,” and another painting is called “The Return of the Prodigal Son.” While both paintings include the name “Prodigal Son” in their titles, the two paintings are of very different subjects. The painting “The Prodigal Son in the Tavern” is a portrait of the artist and a woman who has been identified as his wife Saskia. The painting is simply signed “REMBRANDT F,” and is thought to have been painted by Rembrandt in 1635. The other painting is called “The Return of the Prodigal Son” which the artist finished painting just two short years before his death in 1669. The painting is a rendition in oils of the parable of the return of the prodigal son to his father’s estate.
In the parable, the young man returns to his father’s home in a broken down and disheveled state. The boy had left his father’s estate with his inheritance, and during his travels had wasted it all. Ashamed of his behavior, the son thought that his father would shun him if he returned, but his father was happy to have his son return home and simply accepted his return with a simple and tender gesture which Rembrandt captured in the painting with much civility.
Rembrandt’s rendition of the scene displayed his mastery of the arts in his later years, with deft brushstrokes and overall mastery of the subjects in the painting. His understanding of the solemnity of the moment is captured in such a way that many historians have said that this painting was far beyond the work of what other artists were producing at that time.
Rembrandt was also famous for other works of art including a vast amount of etchings and drawings which numbered in the thousands between both types of art. Most of Rembrandt’s etchings were produced from 1626 to 1660. One of his most recognized etchings was called the Hundred Guilder Print and Rembrandt worked on that piece between the years 1647-1649 and he worked on this piece in several stages before its completion.
In 1968 a group of art historians was brought together to form the Rembrandt Research Project. Funded by the Netherlands Organization for the Advancement of Scientific Research, this company was only thought to last for a period of about ten years, but 42 years has been closed down only recently. The scope of the project was to put together a definitive catalog of the artist’s work using whatever tools were available and included state of the art scientific diagnostics to authenticate as many of Rembrandt’s works as possible. At the time of the closing of the foundation, there were five volumes of the artist’s works that made up the Corpus of Rembrandt paintings.
Rembrandt was a master of several different styles of art, including his various painting and etchings along with his drawings. His total mastery over these art forms is still appreciated and spoken of in reverence for the attention to detail that he used to create each of his pieces art.