Collection Online

The younger son
plate 1 from The Prodigal Son series 1996

soft-ground etching
50.3 × 33.3 cm (plate) 75.0 × 53.6 cm irreg. (sheet)
Place/s of Execution
Sydney, New South Wales
artist's proof 3/5
inscribed in pencil l.l.: AP III/IV
inscribed in pencil l.r.: Arthur Boyd
chopmark l.r.: (Whale) (embossed)
Accession Number
Australian Prints / Australian Prints & Drawings
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Presented through The Art Foundation of Victoria by Australian Galleries, Member, 1997
© Arthur Boyd’s work reproduced with the permission of Bundanon Trust,
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of the Joe White Bequest
Gallery location
Not on display
Physical description
This suite of etchings illustrates the first part of the story of the Prodigal Son as told in the Book of Luke, chapter 15, verses 11-24. In this story, the younger son of a farmer requests his share of the inheritance and squanders it with 'riotous living, gambling in a bawdy house in the company of thieves and courtesans.' Starving and forced to work as a swine-herd, the most despised of all occupations, he resolves to return home and ask his father's forgiveness, humbly offering to work as his servant. With great compassion, the father forgives his son, orders the servants to dress him in the best robe, to put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet, and to kill the fatted calf for a celebratory feast. The main elements of this narrative are depicted in Boyd's characteristically bold and expressive graphic style which reinstates the universality and timelessness of the story.