Master of the Prodigal Son

(fl. c. 1530—1560)

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(fl Antwerp, c. 1530–60). Flemish painter. His name is derived from the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Vienna, Ksthist. Mus.; see fig.), which was originally ascribed to jan Mandijn by Gustav Glück but reattributed to this anonymous master by Georges Hulin de Loo in his catalogue of 1909 of the museum of Ghent. Ring, who first published a list of possible attributions to the artist, observed that one of the paintings had the monogram lk (see Marlier, p. 80), which she thought could be that of Leonaert Kroes, an artist mentioned by Karel van Mander as one of the teachers of Gillis van Coninxloo III. The authenticity of the monogram and the status of the picture as an autograph work have been doubted, however, and the identification with Kroes has therefore been dismissed. Subsequent additions to the artist's oeuvre, notably by Marlier, and the regular appearance of several versions of the same compositions have made it clear that the Master must have been the head of an extremely busy studio. Many of his works have biblical subjects, often taken from the Old Testament. Some of these, presumably the earliest, are close in style to the work of Pieter Coecke van Aelst and Pieter Aertsen, but in other paintings the influence of such artists as Pieter Pourbus and Frans Floris becomes apparent, while the antique ruins in some of the landscape backgrounds indicate the Master's knowledge of Hieronymus Cock's engravings of 1550–51. This suggests a career extending from the 1530s until at least the 1550s. Only one painting actually has a date, of 1535. Volckaert has also shown that the Master executed cartoons (Paris, Louvre) for a series of ten tapestries of the Story of Tobias, woven in Brussels (Gaasbeek, Kasteel, and Tarragona, Mus. Dioc.).

From The Grove Encyclopedia of Northern Renaissance Art in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Renaissance Art.

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