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image SG121

After Marten de Vos (1532 - 1603)

The Prodigal Son as Swineherd (see also 116, 117 & 123)

17th century


Clear glass with brown paint, yellow stain and blue, dark green and red enamel

Height: 189 mm
Width: 155mm

Museum number: SG121

Curatorial note

Kneeling barefoot at a trough, the Prodigal holds a staff in his right hand and stretches out his left toward several lively and characterful pigs. In the foreground a tiny piglet struggles to reach the food. In the middle left is a scene of the Prodigal approaching the farmer for work, while the background shows elaborate thatched farm buildings around a courtyard and trees.

The figures are freely drawn, however, those in the background lack adequate articulation and the perspective drawing of the farm buildings is unconvincing. The enamel paints are applied quite loosely and the dark green grass and foliage have areas of clear glass around the objects against them. Nevertheless, the overall effect is lively and colourful, but this is a routine workshop product and may be from the same output as SG122 The Crucifixion and SG123 The Last Supper.

The panel is after Marten de Vos in an engraving by Crispijn de Passe I from a series dated 1599-1600. All the details in the print are present in the glass painting, with minimal cropping on the left and right. Popham commented ‘c.1580, may go back to Heemskerck’.


A Description of the Residence of Sir John Soane, Architect. Limited edition published privately, London 1835, p. 57: In the window [of the Shakespeare Recess] are ten compartments of ancient Painted Glass, among which are the Annunciation, the Prodigal Son, the Raising of Lazarus, the Last Supper, St Peter, St Paul, St Andrew and St Matthias. Plate XXXII
The New Hollstein, Dutch and Flemish Etchings Engravings and Woodcuts 1450-1700. Rotterdam: Sound and Vision Publishers, 1993– XLIV, XLV 585
A. E. Popham’s comments are MS notes in pencil held at Sir John Soane’s Museum, c. 1930
Catalogue of the Stained Glass in Sir John Soane's Museum, Special Issue of the Journal of Stained Glass 2004, pp 262-263

If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: worksofart@soane.org.uk