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The Return of the Prodigal Son

Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn

Oil on canvas; 262 x 205 cm

The subject comes from the Bible, The Gospel According to Luke, XV: 20-24. The artist had already turned to the theme several times in his graphic works, but in the Hermitage painting, created not long before his death, the painter endowed it with the sense of great tragedy elevated to a symbol of universal significance. Complex emotions are expressed in the figure of the bent old man and his suffering, kneeling son: repentance and charity, boundless love and regret at the belated spiritual awakening. These images represent the summit of Rembrandt's psychological mastery.

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