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“Lk 15, 11–32. Rembrandt. Dedication, Alexander Sokurov.” Opening of the exhibition

Published 21 September 2020

On 15 September 2020, the exhibition “Lk 15, 11–32. Rembrandt. Dedication, Alexander Sokurov” opened in the State Hermitage.

The title of the exhibition references the passage in St Luke’s Gospel (Chapter 15, verses 11–32) that is better known as The Parable of the Prodigal Son. The parable about fatherly love and all-forgivingness told by Luke the Evangelist has inspired artists down through the centuries. Perhaps the most famous and most moving interpretation of the subject in art is Rembrandt’s painting The Return of the Prodigal Son that is one of the symbols of the Hermitage. It is to that very picture and to the great master’s oeuvre that the famous film-director Alexander Sokurov has dedicated his multimedia installation.

On 14 September 2020, there was a press showing of the exhibition and a briefing in which the exhibition’s curators – Mikhail Piotrovsky, General Director of the State Hermitage, and Marina Shults, Deputy Head of the Hermitage’s Department of Contemporary Art – took part together with the creators of the exhibition: Alexander Sokurov, the author of the project, the sculptors Vladimir Brodarsky, and Yekaterina Pilnikova, the artist Alexei Perepyolkin and other participants.

“Alexander Sokurov is a person who sees things that others do not see, and that is very revealing through the example of The Prodigal Son,” Mikhail Piotrovsky said at the briefing. “This is not only a painting over which everyone cries. It is the subject of much reflection. It is a painting about which dozens of books have been written, about the meanings there are within it – theological and others, not just those that Rembrandt depicted. Alexander Nikolayevich has given a completely new harsh interpretation and shown what the price of repentance is and whether it can be believed.”

The same day, there was an advance showing of the exhibition attended by artists, cultural figures and businesspeople. “I want to thank the museum administration and Alexander Sokurov for trusting us with such an important mission – being the sponsors of this exhibition,” said Andrei Murov, First Deputy Director General and CEO of ROSSETI. “It is amazing when things that seemingly exist separately can find such powerful embodiment in a single great concept. There is religion and creativity in the most diverse forms: painting, sculpture, video and other formats that are united in the one great whole.”

Those gathered for the formal opening of the exhibition were greeted by Mikhail Piotrovsky: “The project originally created for Venice is being presented in the Hermitage in a different way, altered fundamentally and seriously. This is the acme of the Hermitage tradition: when people take inspiration from the Hermitage and produce exhibitions. Alexander Nikolayevich Sokurov is a person dear to the Hermitage, a man who belongs to the extensive category of people who love the Hermitage and to the narrow category of people who understand the museum to the very depths of its meanings and consider every last grain in the Hermitage to be of significance for humanity.”

“In recent days I have come to understand why fate cast me up in Leningrad of all places,” Alexander Sokurov replied. “Probably in order that something astonishing might happen – I was accepted by my beloved Hermitage, accept by these spheres, they gave me a refuge. Nothing else in this city became so dear and close to me. First the film was made that is very important in my life, and then this exhibition. This is a tremendous event for a film director. It is such a gift to create a work and to present it to a respected audience.”

Within the installation, viewers will encounter sculptural embodiments of the father and son that have emerged, as it were, from Rembrandt’s picture, will  be transported to the studio of the great Dutch artist and see original videos created under the guidance of Alexander Suvorov. Rethinking a subject familiar to everyone, the director creates a special space that allows each person to discover aspects of the story new to them.

A special atmosphere is created within the display by music from the Saint Petersburg film composer Andrei Sigle. A peculiar symphony is produced by recordings of distant fighting, the sounds of cannonades combined with the music of the Russian Horn Orchestra.



The exhibition “Lk 15, 11–32. Rembrandt. Dedication, Alexander Sokurov” has been organized with the sponsorship of

General Sponsor of the Year of Rembrandt in the Hermitage – the Shell Concern in Russia




Exhibition Sponsor – ROSSETI Federal Grid Company of Unified Energy System


More about the exhibition