In case you’re not familiar with the parable of the Prodigal Son, I’ll give you the bare outline: A man has two sons, one of whom goes to his father, demands his inheritance (which, in context is not just a request for money but a not-so-subtle “I wish you would HURRY UP and DIE, old man” kind of thing), sails off and squanders every penny getting drunk with idiots. The money runs out, the idiots jump ship, and the son is now crammed full of regrets and tries to sneak home and get a job as a servant. His father sees him coming, is having none of it, and runs out to forgive him before he even apologizes, they embrace.
Also, the other brother is deeply angry that his father would slaughter a calf in celebration for his ne’er-do-well sibling, and says, “You never even gave me and my friends a single goat,” which has to be the greatest complaint in the entirety of religious literature. Anyhow, as you can imagine, this became a popular motif in Western European art for hundreds of years, with the whole “prodigal” aspect of the prodigal son being stressed to…mixed effect.
It’s always really weird to me when someone paints the Prodigal Son as, like, twelve, because it’s tough to imagine him getting into too much debauchery. Very Bart and Milhouse on a Squishee bender. He’s got a flower crown and, if you’ll look carefully, he still has a shirt, it’s just tied around his waist. So…the wages of sin don’t look especially bad here. 2/10, would not redeem.
S O L I D. He doesn’t even have any toes left! His feet are just featureless blocks of foot-skin! He sold his toes just to eat. That is one prodigal son!
Pathetic. A of all, those are crocodile tears. Look at him! That face has insincerity painted all over it! His brother knows what’s up. Look at him. I’ll bet he had a goat, like, yesterday.
This one is set inexplicably in the 1890s and he just looks…vaguely thoughtful? A little shabby, maybe, but college-student-run-down, not eating-out-of-the-gutter bad. “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t see you there. I’m…enormously prodigal.”
This is…pretty good. I like how dirty his feet are, and whatever he’s wearing definitely qualifies as rags. The little sad dog adds a nice touch! I’m a bit conservative inasmuch as I think the only people you need in a Prodigal Son tableaux are Son (Prodigal), Father (Forgiving) and Son (Goatless). Everyone else just muddles the scene! Like, who of all these dudes crowding into the right-hand corner is the resentful brother? And who’s the resentful chick? Why is someone bringing in a bowl full of laundry? That’s way more clothes than the one son needs. There are like five tunics in there! There’s too much going on here!
Disqualified. You are five. What did you spend all your inheritance on? Being five?? GET OUT OF HERE. YOU ARE FIVE.
This is just…putting a shirt on him. It looks like he has two very serious butlers!
WHY IS THERE A MOTHER HERE? WHY IS HER FACE LIKE THAT? “My son! I am BEGRUDGINGLY going to hug you??” And there’s some very excited, I guess, seamstress in the background? Whichever form of weaving you have a spindle at, I don’t know. Knittlework.
A++++ LOOK AT THE ANGRY BROTHER IN THE FAR RIGHT HAND CORNER. “DAMN THAT CHARMING BROTHER OF MINE! HE BATHES HIS FEET IN COPPER WHILE I HAVE NOT EVEN A SINGLE GOAT TO MY NAME!”
…Why is he a mummy? Why is the Prodigal Son returning to his father from the grave?
he looks AWFULLY STURDY for someone too weak and hungry to stand, but the three-day stubble definitely lets me know he has recently clutched a sink and stared into the mirror while thinking “What have I BECOME,” also the dog is like, “What have you BECOME,” but also “I smell the real you underneath it all!!!”
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.