Art/ Collection/ Art Object

The Prodigal Son (The Parables of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ)

Artist:
After Sir John Everett Millais (British, Southampton 1829–1896 London)
Engraver:
Engraved and printed by Dalziel Brothers (British, active 1839–1893)
Date:
1864
Medium:
Wood engraving; proof on India paper
Dimensions:
image: 5 1/2 x 4 5/16 in. (13.9 x 10.9 cm) sheet: 7 5/16 x 6 1/16 in. (18.6 x 15.4 cm)
Classification:
Prints
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1921
Accession Number:
21.68.4(16)
Not on view
It took Millais seven years to design twenty images inspired by New Testament Parables for the Dalziel Brothers, and the resulting prints are considered pinnacles of wood engraved illustration. The artist wrote to his publishers, "I can do ordinary drawings as quickly as most men, but these designs can scarcely be regarded in the same light—each Parable I illustrate perhaps a dozen times before I fix [the image]." After completing a design, Millais transferred it to a woodblock coated with Chinese white for skilled engravers to carve. Finally, he reviewed proofs and final adjustments were made before the final printing.
The Parable of the Prodigal Son appears in Luke:15:11-32, and Millais focused on the verse when the repentant son returns to ask forgiveness and his father "filled with compassion...threw his arms around him and kissed him." Pre-Raphaelite ideals shaped the combination of detailed naturalism and down-to-earth imagery, producing works distinctly different than most religious art of the period.
Vendor: Francis Edwards
Oklahoma City Museum of Art. "Artist as Narrator: Nineteenth Century Narrative Art in England and France," September 8, 2005–November 27, 2005.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Pre-Raphaelite Legacy: British Art and Design," May 20–October 26, 2014.

Goldman 25 (xvi)
Gleeson White English illustration: "the sixties": 1855-70. Archibald Constable & Co., London, 1903, cat. no. 119.

Gregory R. Suriano The Pre-Raphaelite Illustrators: The Published Graphic Art of the English Pre-Raphaelites and Their Associates. Oak Knoll Press, 2000, pp. 144-5, 147, ill.

Paul Goldman Beyond Decoration: The Illustrations of John Everett Millais. London, 2005, Book Illustrations, 25 (xvi), pp. 13, 16, 19, 25, 44, 156, ill.



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