James Tissot 1836 – 1902

The Prodigal Son in Modern Life: The Return (1882)

etching (31 × 37 cm) — c. 1882 Museum National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

James Tissot biography

This work is linked to Luke 15:21

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Tissot places the story of the prodigal son who returns to his father repenting in a contemporary context. The son's ship has just come in and his father awaits him at the quay.

Perhaps Tissot was inspired by this depiction of the story by Rembrandt. Here too the bystanders look on in silence, impressed by the scene. Twenty years earlier, Tissot made a Prodigal son set in Paris.

The etching is one in a series of four Tissot made on the story of the Prodigal Son. The others show the departure, the wasting of the inheritance and the brother's jealousy about the fatted calf.

Tissot lived in London when he made this etching. He enjoyed spending time in the Port of London and often used it as a setting for his work.

A coloured version also exists.
Coloured version

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