Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Spanish, 1617-1682
Title: The Prodigal Son Driven Out
Date: 1660s
Medium: Oil on canvas
104.5 x 134.5 cm
Credit Line: Presented, Sir Alfred and Lady Beit, 1987 (Beit Collection)
Object Number: NGI.4543
DescriptionIn the parable of the Prodigal Son, (Luke 15:14), the younger of two brothers took his inheritance and squandered it on good living with harlots, before being thrown out into the street. This is one of six paintings in the Gallery’s collection by Murillo. They tell the story against the backdrop of seventeenth-century Seville. They were painted for an unknown patron with no early history. The role of each figure can be clearly read, with an old crone, the madam at the door, a cavalier waving a sword, the courtesans in pursuit, one of whom wields a broom, and finally the young man, who is even being chased by a dog. Murillo’s technique is integral to the speed of execution, with a broadly painted background where the pink undercolour is left to show through and blend with the flesh tones and clothing. The main composition derives from one of Jacques Callot’s tiny etchings of The Life of the Prodigal Son (1634), with incidental details removed to focus on the main action. Murillo emerged as an independent artist in Seville around 1640 and soon dominated the city. A visit to Madrid in 1658, where he saw paintings in the royal collection by Rubens, van Dyck and Velázquez, gave a new boldness and richness of colour to his own work.

March 2016
ProvenancePossibly acquired by Don Jerónimo de Eguía, Marqués de Narros, who arrived in Seville in 1696 as President of the Casa de Contratacíon; Marqués de Narros, Castillo de Campo Zarana, Zarauz (Guipúzcoa), early ninenteenth century; José de Madrazo, Madrid; Marqués de Salamanca, c.1850; Marqués de Salamanca sale, Paris, 6 March 1867, lots 13-17 (the series) where bought by the Earl of Dudley; purchased, Mr Alfred Beit, 1896; collection Mr. Alfred Beit, Park Lane, London, until 1906 when inherited by his brother, sir Otto Beit, Belgrave Square, London; by inheritance to his son, Sir Alfred Beit, London, 1930; collection of Sir Alfred and Lady Beit , Russborough, county Wicklow, 1953-1987; presented, Sir Alfred and Lady Beit, 1987
Exhibition HistoryNational Exhibition of Works of Art, Leeds, 1868

Exhibition of Works of the Old Masters, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1871

Spanish Art, The New Gallery, London, 1895-1896

An Exhibition of Spanish Paintings, The Arts Council, National Gallery, London, 1947

Old Master Piantings from the Beit Collection, National Gallery of South Africa, Cape Town, 1949-1950

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Prado, Madrid; Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1982-1983

Murillo: The Prodigal Son, The Bowes Museum, Durham, UK, 2020-2021

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