The subject is from Christ's parable in Luke XV: having squandered his inheritance, the Prodigal Son is generously received by his father. When this painting entered the collection at Dulwich Picture Gallery, it was attributed to Ribera. More recently it has been given to the Master of the Annunciation to the Shepherds, a mysterious artist active in Naples in the 1630s, although the author of this picture is probably rather someone from his close circle or workshop. The close-up format of the painting is indebted to examples by Guercino. The protagonists of this Biblical story of a father's forgiveness are presented in simple clothes, following a typically Neapolitan colour scheme, made of browns, earthy reds and ochres.