Panel, 47 x 70 cm
signed and dated B. van Bassen, 1626
Hoogsteder & Hoogsteder, The Hague
Painter and architect Bartholomeus van Bassen’s depiction of a palace is drawn completely from fantasy. Yet a realistic spatial effect is achieved through the strict application of the ru1es of perspective. The open space in the background is what first attracts the eye. In front of it are hvo other spaces divided by a column. There, from the four corners of the painting, diagonal lines lead us back to the centre of the picture, where our eye is caught by a portico. From the portico a visual jump is easily made to a form of similar size slightly higher, the large hall lantern. This lamp, in its turn, is the top of a triangular framework containing the three principal figures.
A man in rich attire is bidding farewell to a young man accompanied by a page and on the right a woman wipes away a tear. These figures clearly refer to the moment in the biblical story of the Prodigal Son when the hero takes leave of his parents (Luke I5:II-32).
Paintings by Van Bassen cou1d be found at both the Stadholder’s court and that of the Winter king in The Hague. The distinction, elegance and grandeur exuded in this painting went perfenly with their royal lifestyles. It is not just the subject and the composition that reveals this character; the bright light, the delicate colours and the precise execution all contributes to the effect.