(b. 1642, Amsterdam, d. 1719, Amsterdam)

The Prodigal Son

Oil on canvas, 111 x 99 cm
Residenzgalerie, Salzburg

One of the popular subjects for painting was the parable of the Prodigal Son, who squanders all his earthly goods in a distant country, returns home humbly and is warmly received by his father. It was frequently used as an opportunity to depict the life of prostitutes in brothels or scenes of dissolution in taverns with people singing, quarrelling or brawling.

Given the absence of the Catholic Church as a sponsor of works of art in Holland, and given the Calvinist ban on pictures as altarpieces or objects of reverence, paintings served decorative or didactic purposes. Scenes from the Old and the New Testament were used to instruct and to exhort people to moderation.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.