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The Prodigal Son, Large Model (L'Enfant prodigue, grand modèle)

European Art

This figure appears several times in The Gates of Hell, and the head also reappears, both alone (see Head of Sorrow, nearby) and attached to other bodies. Its precarious pose and distorted physiognomy conjure a variety of moods, from despondency and helplessness to yearning and supplication. Like many of the writhing bodies and anguished faces created for The Gates of Hell, this figure’s extreme pose—interpreted as a depiction of internal suffering—may derive in part from Rodin’s knowledge of medical illustrations of the convulsions and contortions characteristic of the condition then known as hysteria.

This work has been exhibited under other titles but is commonly called The Prodigal Son, after the biblical parable in which the younger son of a rich man squanders his fortune, suffers deprivation, and ultimately realizes his foolishness and returns to beg his father’s forgiveness.
  • Place Made: France
  • DATES late 1880s, cast 1969
    DIMENSIONS 54 3/8 x 35 1/2 x 28 3/4 in., 218 lb. (138.1 x 90.2 x 73 cm)  (show scale)
    MARKINGS Back, base, lower edge: ".Georges.Rudier./Fondeur. Paris." Back, base, lower edge: "© by Musée Rodin 1969"
    SIGNATURE Top of base, in front of proper left foot: "A. Rodin"
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    CREDIT LINE Gift of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Auguste Rodin (French, 1840–1917). The Prodigal Son, Large Model (L'Enfant prodigue, grand modèle), late 1880s, cast 1969. Bronze, 54 3/8 x 35 1/2 x 28 3/4 in., 218 lb. (138.1 x 90.2 x 73 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation, 84.75.4. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 84.75.4_SL1.jpg)
    EDITION Edition: 9/12
    IMAGE overall, 84.75.4_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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