Guy Le Perse

The prodigal son – Male nude – Bronze sculpture

Guy Le Perse

The prodigal son

Date : c. XXI

Dimensions : H : 74 cm ; L : 37,5 cm ; P : 39,8 cm

place of production: Lille

Material : Bronze with patina

Condition : Excellent condition

Conditions & disponibilité: Original work produced in 8 numbered copies plus 4 for artist. A certificate of authenticity signed by the artist is provided to the purchaser - copy still available.


of work

Large bronze sculpture of a biblical subject

In this major bronze sculpture, sculptor Guy Le Perse has chosen to depict the prodigal son as a naked, twirling young man, caught in a dance-like embrace. In this bronze, Le Perse crystallizes an astonishing parable of Christ given to us in the Gospel according to Saint Luke.
In the Gospel according to Saint Luke, we read the following story:
A man had two sons. The younger claimed his share of the inheritance, then went off to squander it and indulge his desires, while the elder stayed behind to serve his father.
Ruined, starving and forced to work miserably, he eventually returned to his father, who welcomed him back with happiness and showed his joy at finding him by throwing a sumptuous party.
The eldest son was astonished by his father’s welcome to his brother. Never having benefited from such largesse, even though he had always been faithful and devoted, he told his father of the injustice he felt.
His father replied that he was delighted to have found a living son who had died.
This parable parallels that of the lost sheep in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, which reminds us that a shepherd feels more joy over one sheep that is lost and then found than over a hundred that are well guarded.

From a theological point of view, the parable of Christ signifies the importance of the sinner in God’s eyes. Apart from God, there is no salvation. The prodigal son is the repentant sinner, and the father is God, who expresses his joy at finding his creation delivered from sin and thus from death.
From a symbolic angle, the prodigal son is the metaphor for man who, after an initiatory wandering, finally rejects the superficial, the illusion, to return to the first principle from which he sprang.
Le Perse’s Le fils prodigue expresses with great subtlety and elegance the personal journey of the man who has become wise. His whole body expresses this personal evolution, this reversal of values. The movement of the prodigal son’s arms and hands shows us the inner work he has accomplished. With his left hand, he rejects pretense and sweeps away the useless, while with the index finger of his right hand, he points out the path he will take from now on, that of returning to his father, the first principle.

The return of the prodigal son is an oil on canvas painted by Eugène Burnand in 1900.
Eugène Burnand - OIl on canvas - The return of te prodigal son (1900

"mangeons, festoyons : car mon fils que voici était mort, et il est revenu à la vie ; il était perdu, et il a été retrouvé." Lc, XV,24

Guy le Perse : portrait de l'artiste Guy le Perse en train de modeler une sculpture

Guy Le Perse

Roubaix (France) 1953

Sculptor Guy Le Perse trained at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts et Industries Textiles in Roubaix and the École des Beaux-Arts in Douai. Guy Le Perse’s masters were the sculptor Armand DEBEVE, whose model he used for some of his works, and the painter and engraver Auguste-Jean GAUDIN. From his masters, he drew a very high personal standard in the mastery of gesture and in the realization of his works.
A complete and expert artist, mastering both burin engraving and painting, Guy Le Perse worked for many years for a number of prestigious clients. While practicing sculpture as a personal and secret philosophy, Guy Le Perse taught at schools of applied art and fine art schools in northern France.
Shortly before the year 2000, Guy Le Perse decided to devote himself primarily to sculpture. Guy Le Perse has produced a powerful and profound figurative body of work in the great tradition of French statuary, one of the richest and most beautiful in the world.
Through his work, Guy Le Perse perpetuates the excellence of French sculpture, which illustrious artists such as Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux and Auguste Rodin have brought to the pinnacle, its rightful place.

Drawing on the foundations and mysteries of the human soul that the great myths and founding texts explain to us, Guy Le Perse has created a timeless work of great beauty, combining strength and delicacy.
Fiercely independent throughout his professional life, he is also independent with the times. Guy Le Perse’s sculptures do not follow fashions or trends ; they are timeless. With no concessions to the times, Guy Le Perse’s works speak of the human tragedy to the man of yesterday and to the man who will contemplate them a thousand years from now.
A demanding perfectionist, Guy Le Perse carries out the entire manufacturing process for his bronzes himself, apart from casting the bronze. Guy Le Perse’s mastery of model modelling, chasing and patination is equally exacting, and he accompanies his works right down to the smallest detail.

the work

in its context

This work should be seen in parallel with another sculpture by Guy Le Perse, with which it is in dialogue: Icare.
Identical in all but a few details, they are an inverted reflection of each other.
With sensitivity and insight, Le Perse brings these two subjects into dialogue, unifying them in a profound reflection on paternity and responsibility.

Le fils prodigue, sculpture en bronze d'un nu masculin par Guy le Perse pour la galerie Théophanos
Le fils prodigue, sculpture en bronze d'un nu masculin par Guy le Perse pour la galerie Théophanos

In fact, these two works respond to each other, making us reflect on the theme of fatherhood, its risks and its obligations. The prodigal son and Icarus are two powerful works inspired by two radically different conceptions of the world. One, drawn from Greek mythology, can speak to all men. The other, from Christian Revelation, reminds us that a binding law is inscribed in the heart of each and every one of us.

Le fils prodigue, sculpture en bronze d'un nu masculin par Guy le Perse pour la galerie Théophanos
Le fils prodigue, sculpture en bronze d'un nu masculin par Guy le Perse pour la galerie Théophanos


Exposition – Guy Le Perse – Paris, Hôtel George V – 01/06/2003 – 30/06/2003

Exposition – Guy Le Perse – Lambersart, Le Colysée  – 11/11/2005 – 08/01/2006

Exposition – Art-Up ! – Lille, Grand Palais  – 28/02/2019 – 03/03/2019

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