Guercino (born Giovanni Francesco Barbieri), 1591-1666
The Return of the Prodigal Son, 1654-55
Oil on canvas, 155.6 x 146.1 cm (61-1/4 x 57-1/2 in.
The Return of the Prodigal Son is a well known biblical story that teaches repentance and forgiveness. It tells of a younger son who squanders his share of an inheritance and returns home to beg his father’s forgiveness. In this painting, the artist shows the moment when the impoverished son is welcomed by his father, who is dressed as a wealthy man. Depicted to the left is a servant who is sent to bring fine clothes for the penitent son and to kill a fatted calf for a feast. Guercino was born in Cento, a small town in northern Italy. From 1621-23, he worked in Rome painting altarpieces and ceiling frescos for Pope Gregory XV. Guercino painted in the Baroque style, which describes artworks that are ornately decorated, dynamic and filled with emotion. View The Return of the Prodigal Son in the Collection.