The Prodigal Son

Auguste Rodin (1840 -1917)



H. 138 cm ; W. 87 cm ; D. 75 cm


Cast made by Fonderie Alexis Rudier in 1942 for the museum collections.

Taut as a bow string, this male figure originated in the Ugolino group , designed for the The Gates of Hell . Placed upright for the man in Fugit Amor , the head and torso belong to one of the children of Ugolino, reworked with different legs. The head was again re-used in Head of Sorrow . This method of composing new works out of pre-existing fragments was central to Rodin’s creative process.


The enlargement of the work is even more dramatic and its form is perfectly in keeping with the subject borrowed from the New Testament parable of the spendthrift son who returns home to throw himself at his father’s feet and beg his forgiveness for the ingratitude with which he had previously treated him. By highlighting certain details of this figure, like the hands, and by placing it in an unbalanced position, Rodin infuses this sorrowful body with the irrepressible fervour of a final prayer.

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