Panel, 57 x 74 cm
Painted circa 1640
Signed : vander Lamen fecit (above door)
Hoogsteder & Hoogsteder, The Hague
The story of the Prodigal Son allows the painter ample scope to display his talents. The elegant figures with their colourful attire, and the pictorial beauty of the pronk still life on the table all add to the picture’s charm. The work is enlivened by a flute glass with red wine, a berkemeyer in a silver-gilt stand and a silver saltcellar. The man is holding the berkemeyer filled with red wine in his hand. In the foreground at the right is a silver-gilt wine cooler with two square wine bottles, one containing red, the other white, wine. All the accessories indicate that the environment in which the Prodigal Son finds himself, although of a dubious nature, is nonetheless pervaded by an atmosphere of luxury.
The picture shows close parallels to the merry company pieces by, for instance, Dirck Hals. Van der Laemen, however, works in a swifter and looser painterly style, using a thick impasto. The contours have been kept vague and this sfumato effect brings the artist’s figures wonderfully into relief. The Prodigal Son ranks among Van der Laemen’s finest works.