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View full screen - View 1 of Lot 11. Parable of the Prodigal Son, A Set of Four.

Property from a Private Collection

Sebastien Vrancx

Parable of the Prodigal Son, A Set of Four

Auction Closed

May 22, 04:23 PM GMT


250,000 - 350,000 USD

Lot Details


Property from a Private Collection

Sebastien Vrancx

Antwerp 1573 - 1647

Departure of the Prodigal Son;

Prodigal Son's Feast;

Prodigal Son with the Swine;

Return of the Prodigal Son

the first, signed SV on the pediment and dated MDCXXXII on the cartouche upper left;

the third, signed SV on the barrel lower right;

the fourth, signed SV on the cartouche upper center and indistinctly dated lower right

oil on oak panel, a set of four

each panel: 19 ⅝ by 29 ¼ in.; 49.8 by 74.3 cm.

each framed: 25 by 34 ¾ in.; 63.5 by 88.3 cm.

Baron Laurent Meeus (1872-1950), Brussels, by 1926;

Anonymous sale ("Property of a Gentleman"), London, Sotheby's, 11 December 1974, lots 58A-D;

Where acquired by a private collector;

By whom anonymously sold ("Property from a Private Collection"), London, Sotheby's, 5 December 2018, lot 10;

Where acquired by the present collector.

Exposition rétrospective du paysage flamand, exhibition catalogue, Brussels 1926, cat. nos. 358-361;

M. Díaz Padrón, "Un dibujo de Sebastian Vranck en el Museo del Prado," in Boletín del Museo del Prado 1, no. 3 (1980) pp. 156–158, the first and second panels reproduced figs. 2 and 5.

Brussels, Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Exposition rétrospective du paysage flamand, 8 September – 8 November 1926, nos. 358–361 (lent by Baron Laurent Meeus).

This rare and impressive group of panels by Sebastiaen Vrancx illustrates four episodes from the parable of the Prodigal Son: the departure from his family; the squandering of his inheritance; the fall into poverty; and the eventual return. Such cycles of paintings–commonly allegorical representations of the months or seasons–were in high demand in early-seventeenth-century Flanders, where Vrancx became one of the foremost proponents of their production. Complete extant sets by Vrancx, however, are extremely rare and this remains the sole known example featuring the Prodigal Son as its subject. 

The first panel of the series is dated 1632, by which time Vrancx's works were in high demand. Characteristic elements of his mature style are present throughout: in the slightly elongated figures, woolly treatment of the foliage, and emphasis on anecdotal detail. Vrancx situates the moralizing-yet-comedic narrative within a theatrical architectural framework populated with colorfully-costumed actors. Indeed, he may have drawn inspiration from his work as member of the Antwerp rhetoricians' chamber, or "de Violieren", for which he wrote farces, comedies, and tragedies. 

A preliminary drawing for the first scene (Madrid, Museo del Prado, inv. no. D003160) is signed on the cartouche above the gateway, as in the Departure of the Prodigal Son. Additionally, there is a sketch for the Prodigal Son’s Feast in the Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, Braunschweig (inv. no. Z325).