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image SG125

The Prodigal departs, stained glass roundel, After Pieter Coecke van Aelst, Netherlandish, 1550

Stained glass

Diameter: 255mm

Museum number: SG125

Curatorial note

The Prodigal sits astride his well caparisoned horse and leans down to take his father's hand in farewell. The father wears a helmet-shaped hat and a flowing gown over short breeches; he leans forward awkwardly with his right knee bent. With her hands clasped, the Prodigal’s mother gazes out from the doorway of a house with refined architectural detail. Beside the horse is a large dog and in the distance trees and another house can be seen. The figures are elegant with the slightly exaggerated poses characteristic of the Mannerist tradition.

Both Popham and Berserik give an attribution to the workshop of Pieter Coecke van Aelst at Antwerp, c.1550. Another example of this workshop’s output can be seen in SG27, The Prodigal Seeks Work, which is probably from the same cycle.

Cole makes the same attribution to Coecke for a version at Fawsley, St Mary (Northants.) (in which the mother is omitted from the doorway). Another replica is at Locksley Hall, North Somercotes (Lincs.) and the related panels of Prodigal receiving his patrimony is at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, at St Mary the Virgin, Addington (Bucks.) and also at the Fondation Custodia, Paris. Other scenes possibly from the same series are the Prodigal Feasting, Metropolitan Museum and the Cloisters, New York, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and Return of the Prodigal in the Musée d’Art ancien, Brussels and Fondation Custodia, Paris.


Inventory number of the Musees Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire
A. E. Popham’s comments are MS notes in pencil held at Sir John Soane’s Museum, c.1930
Bernard Rackham, A Guide to the Collections of Stained Glass, Victoria and Albert Museum. London: V&A Department of Ceramics, 1936 C 274-1908, C 5649-1859
William Cole, A Catalogue of Netherlandish and North European Roundels in Britain. Oxford: OUP for The British Academy, 1993 54
Dr C. J. Berserik, correspondence. Sir John Soane's Museum Archive (1998-2002)
Timothy B. Husband, Stained Glass Before 1700 in American Collections, Vol. 39, CVMA Checklist IV. Washington: National Gallery of Art, 1991 170
Inventory of Institut Néelandais, Fondation Custodia. Paris: Collection F. Lugt, c.1994 8575 2, 8671
Catalogue of the Stained Glass in Sir John Soane's Museum, Special Issue of the Journal of Stained Glass 2004, p. 267

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