George Minne

(1866-1941)

The prodigal son

Marble
Getekend, G. Minne

signed: G. Minne

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Literature
- Van Puyvelde, L., L'Oeuvre de George Minne. Sculptures et Dessins (Bruxelles: Galerie Georges Giroux, 1929), p. 12, no. 19 (ill. van ande exemplaar).
- Van Puyvelde, L., George Minne (Bruxelles: Cahier de Belgique, 1930), 23, 57, 77, no. 19, pl. 17 (ill.).
- Campo, Campo & Campo 100, Grote Steenweg (Antwerpen: Campo & Campo, 1997), 97 (ill.).
- Hoozee, R., Veertig kunsenaars rond Karel Van de Woestijne (Gent: MSK, 1979), 47, no. 65 (ill.).
- Hoozee, R. e.a., George Minne en de kunst rond 1900 (Gent: MSK/Gemeentekrediet, 1982), 58, 123-125, cover, no. 55 (ill.).
- Rossi-Schrimpf, I., George Minne. Das Frühwerk uns seine Rezeption in Deutschland und Österreich bis zum Ersten Weltkrieg (Weimar: VDG, 2012), 75-77, 81, 85, 102, 119-120, 127, 367, no. P14,  (ill.).
- Hoozee, R. e.a., Wilhelm Lembruck - George Minne - Joseph Beuys (Gent: MSK, 1991), 131, 136, 143, no. 93 (ill.).
- Boyens, P. Sint-Martens-Latem: Kunstenaarsdorp in Vlaanderen (Tielt: Lannoo, 1992), 242-247, 566 (ill.).
- Pauwels, H., De eerste groep van Sint-Martens-Latem 1899-1914 (Brussel: KMSKB, 1988), 62.
- Leblanc, C., F. Eeckman, C. Verleysen, Nevia-Sint-Martens-Latem, tent.cat. (Brussel: Museum van Elsene, 2015), p. 84-85 (ill. ex. M-Museum Leuven).
Exhibitions
- 1929, Brussels, Galerie Georges Giroux.
- 1982, Ghent, Museum voor Schone Kunsten, September-December 1982 (copy in plaster).
- 2001, Ghent, MSK, Een Zeldzame Weelde. Kunst van Latem en de Leiestreek 1900-1930, 17.06-23.09.2001, no. 14 (copy in permanent collection Museum of Fine Arts Ghent inv.no. 1982-G).
- Ghent, Museum of Fine Arts, permanent collection (copy in plaster).
- Leuven, Museum M, permanent collection, inv.no. C/278 (copy in bronze).
- Antwerp, Phoebus Foundation, permanent collection (copy in bronze).
 
Description
This work from 1896 is one of the most intense and expressive sculptures from the oeuvre of the Ghent sculptor George Minne. This group is typical of Minne's iconography. Before 1900 Minne knew his most creative and innovative period in which he renounced academic style and social realism. His friendship with the symbolist poet Maurice Maeterlinck (1862-1949) was no stranger to this. Both were interested in medieval mysticism and looked for other possibilities to represent the emotional world of man. Minne developed a style in which he no longer aspired to a realistic rendering, but rather to a depiction of the internalized emotion. Characteristic of Minne are the delicate, naked bodies that have been sculpted in a delicate way. Already in his earliest images he made in his twenties, such as "Embracing Couple" and "Fighting Men," the motif of the naked entwined bodies occurs. With 'The Prodigal Son' he brings this style to an expressive highlight. The reunion of father and son culminates in an explosive embrace where both their bodies merge, as it were. The image seems to be a visual representation of the ecstasy that occurs in the medieval writings of the mystical author Jan van Ruusbroec (1293-1381), of whom Maeterlinck has translated a work. The modelé also refers to the image of the same name by Auguste Rodin (1840-1917). This powerful representation of unbridled emotion is a harbinger of expressionist sculpture.
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