Rembrandt and Saskia in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, circa 1635
Oil on canvas
The present work was created after the original, circa 1635, currently located at the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden, Germany.
This unique double portrait of Rembrandt with his wife Saskia depicts the couple in a moment of merry exuberance. While the artist turns around to the viewer and raises his glass, Saskia sits in a more restrained pose on his left knee, her head turned in an unnatural rotation toward the front of the canvas. Both figures are dressed in old-fashioned costumes, Rembrandt a swashbuckler with sword and plumed hat, Saskia resembling a lady of loose morals. On the table to the left is a peacock, originally native to India and Sri Lanka, and worshipped as sacred and as a symbol of eternal life. Studied for centuries, Self Portrait as the Prodigal Son, c. 1935, was long understood as an image of the two Rembrandts, then wealthy and successful, ”living it up”. Then in the 1960’s, historians introduced the idea that Rembrandt was acting out the story of the Prodigal Son, a belief accepted and expanded on by many scholars since. Even so, they still cannot agree on the portrait’s nature: is it historical, moralizing or confessional?
The phrase ”après” or ”after” is applied to a work that is created by a highly skilled artist in homage to an identifiable original artwork.
Rembrandt and Saskia in the Parable of the Prodigal Son
Oil on canvas
45 1/2 x 37 inches (115.6 x 94 cm)