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  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    The Prodigal Son, kneeling amid the swine in a Franconian farm yard. c.1496 Engraving

  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1496 (circa)
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 247 millimetres
    • Width: 190 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Signed in the plate.
  • Curator's comments

    Entry from 'Albrecht Dürer and his Legacy', exh cat BM 2002-3, no.42:
    'Dürer's original approach to the subject of this print, in which the Prodigal Son is shown kneeling in penance amid farmyard mire, instead of carousing in a brothel or bath-house as he was more usually represented earlier in the fifteenth century, combined with his technical mastery of the medium of engraving, make this one of his best-loved and most successful images. The contrast in texture between the thatched roofs, the brickwork and the bristles of the swine is especially notable. The print was particularly popular in Italy, where it was much copied by maiolica painters of the early sixteenth century ; there is a particuarly impressive example by Giorgio Andreoli in the Lehman collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art ( 1975.1.1105). In 1568, the print was singled out for praise by Giorgio Vasari, who referred to its "huts in the German manner, which are exceedingly beautiful" (see Vasari, V, p.4).
    Panofsky noted that the composition was recorded in a Persian miniature of the seventeenth century (see P. Blochet, 'Les peintures orientales de la Collection Pozzi', Bulletin de la société française de reproductions de manuscrits à peintures, xii, 1928, pl. xiiib). The engraving was also used as the basis of a German seventeenth-century boxwood relief, today in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (see Dürers Verwandlung, no. 99)'.

    This print was issued as a black and white facsimile by the British Museum in 'Reproductions of Prints in the British Museum', New [Second] Series Part III (German, Dutch, and Italian Prints), Published by the Trustees in 1890, where it was number I and described there as 'Albrecht Dürer. The Prodigal Son.'; (Shelfmark 245*.b.17).


  • Bibliography

    • Dodgson 1926 10 bibliographic details
    • Meder 1932 28 bibliographic details
    • Schoch 2001-04 I.9 bibliographic details
    • Bartsch VII.49.28 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (German XVIc Mounted Roy)

  • Exhibition history

    1995 Jun-Oct, BM, 'German Renaissance Prints, 1490-1550', no.5
    1996 Jun-Aug, Canterbury, Royal Mus and AG, German Renaissance Prints
    1996 Nov-Dec, Edinburgh, NG of Scotland, German Renaissance Prints
    1997 Jan-Mar, Cardiff, Nat Mus of Wales, German Renaissance Prints
    1997 Apr-May, Llandudno, Oriel Mostyn Gallery, German Renaissance Prints
    1997 Oct-Dec, Norwich, Sainsbury Centre, German Renaissance Prints
    2013/14 Oct-Jan, London, Courtauld Gallery, 'Young Dürer'

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number


The Prodigal Son, kneeling amid the swine in a Franconian farm yard.  c.1496  Engraving


The Prodigal Son, kneeling amid the swine in a Franconian farm yard. c.1496 Engraving

Image description



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