Sir Edward John Poynter, 1869
Poynter’s tender portrayal of the New Testament parable of the Prodigal Son captures both the contrite spirit of the son and the compassionate affection of the father. The painting depicts the story in a setting of impressive architecture, lush foliage, rich colors, and telling details. For example, the elaborately embroidered pattern on the hem of the son’s garment and its tattered condition speak of his former status in his father’s household and the depth of his degradation. This painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1869 where it received decidedly favorable reviews. The 1869 Art Journal observed that it was “hard to speak too highly of this work,” and the painting assured Poynter’s election as an Associate of the Royal Academy.