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Jean Louis Forain

(French, 1852–1931)

Return of the Prodigal Son

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Object Details

Artist

Jean Louis Forain

Medium

Pen and ink on wove paper discolored to reddish-tan

Dimensions

Image: 13 1/4 x 20 3/4 inches (33.7 x 52.7 cm)

Credit Line

Anonymous gift

Object
Number

96.035.003

In this drawing of the prodigal son, Forain has chosen to set the scene in the countryside of France(…)

In this drawing of the prodigal son, Forain has chosen to set the scene in the countryside of France in the early twentieth century. Like the Brockhurst drawing on the opposite wall in this exhbition – Anaïs (Girl with a Basket) – this is a study for a print of the same name. Notice that the orientation of the drawing is the same as the print, which means that the artist had to reverse the drawing on the plate to enable it to print correctly. The first state – as can be seen in The return of the Prodigal Son, National Gallery of Victoria – is true in almost every detail to our drawing.But in a different version of the same biblical episode (The Return of the Prodigal Son, National Gallery of Art, Washington) Forain created a smaller plate, etching the two figures in profile. The density of line in the father’s coat and hat outweighs the more delicate lines of the landscape in the background and creates a totally different feel to the image. (“Drawing the Line: 150 Years of European Artists on Paper,” curated by Nancy E. Green and presented at the Johnson Museum January 20–June 10, 2018)

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