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image SG128

Revels of the Prodigal, stained glass panel, after Jan Swart of Groningen, Netherlandish, 1550

Clear glass with brown paint and light and dark yellow stain

Height: 200mm, approximate
Width: 150mm, approximate

Museum number: SG128

Curatorial note

The Prodigal sits behind a round table with a harlot on his lap. He is accompanied to his right by a man sitting on a bench with his arms around two women, one holding a large tankard. Food, goblets and utensils are on the table and in the foreground is an elaborate wine jar. On the right the brothel keeper brings a jug held in both hands, the flowing drapery of her skirts suggesting the speed with which she moves. She is accompanied by a young man holding a plate on which rests a dish. Shrubbery and the trunk of a large tree are visible in the background, with the tall battlemented tower of a castle on the right.

The panel is after Jan Swart of Groningen. The figures of the brothel keeper and harlot are identical to those in a panel at the Victoria and Albert Museum of The Prodigal Driven out of the Brothel, also after Jan Swart, where the Prodigal has a more obvious beard and the setting includes the departure from a castle, suggesting that these are two scenes from the same series.The similarity in technique suggests that they are from the same hand, see for example, the highlighting of the brothel keeper’s dress. The drawing, shading and overall composition are of the highest quality and demonstrate the excellence of which this workshop was capable of at its best. The shading is accomplished by stippling with a very fine brush and a minimum of scratching through the matt, producing, for example, the highlights on the dress over the brothel keeper’s left leg. There is, however, a certain lack of characterisation visible when compared to SG30, The Marriage at Cana, where the painting techniques are analogous but the quality of drawing in the faces, almost certainly by Dirk Piertesz. Crabeth, shows more individuality and character.


Rikksmuseum, Amsterdam, Cat.129.
Bernard Rackham, A Guide to the Collections of Stained Glass, Victoria and Albert Museum. London: V&A Department of Ceramics, 1936, C 941-1907
Dr C. J. Berserik, Personal correspondence. Sir John Soane's Museum Archive (1998-2002)
Catalogue of the Stained Glass in Sir John Soane's Museum, Special Issue of the Journal of Stained Glass 2004, pp 272-273

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