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Created in 1668-69, the painting of the great artist Rembrandt Harmenszoon Van Rijn “The Return of the Prodigal Son” is based on the Biblical story of the Prodigal Son from the Gospel of Luke and is the embodiment of spiritual and carnal, divine, heavenly and earthly principles.
This painting was the result of doubts and excruciating feelings and experiences of a mature author. He mourns for his lost youth and regrets the impossibility of changing the current days. Many art historians and theologians interpreted the image in the picture from the point of view of the embodiment of earthly passions and the divine principle.
Some researchers believe that in the picture the artist portrayed himself in different guises, at different stages of spiritual rebirth. On the one hand, the master presents himself as a prodigal son, repenting of his own sins before his earthly father and God, who is depicted as an old man. On the other - this is the eldest son, in which conscience is embodied. Here is the youngest son as a symbol of reproach for the sins of youth. The old father accepts the prodigal son, despite his mistakes and mistakes in life, he forgives him and regrets.
But it is worth noting that the artist was not too devout. He rather thought on the earthly and possessed the psychology of a simple person who has earthly passions, fears and experiences. Therefore, we can say that the “Return of the Prodigal Son” is an illustration of how in one person at the end of his life there is a unification of the inner, spiritual and external, subject to the passions of the world.
In this case, the publican (the prodigal son) contains the embodiment of the sphere of “devilish passions,” that is, the youth of the artist. The eldest son is conscience and morality based on divine and social principles.
Rembrandt’s inner self is visible in the center of the picture. He kind of watches what is happening around him. At the same time, he looks not only at the characters of the picture, but also at the viewer, involving him in his world of experiences.
Pictures of Russia