It portrays two people who had been identified as Rembrandt himself and his wife Saskia. In the Protestant contemporary world, the theme of the prodigal son was a frequent subject for works of art due to its moral background. Rembrandt himself painted a Return of the Prodigal Son in 1669.
The left side of the canvas was cut, perhaps by the artist himself, to remove secondary characters and focus the observer's attention on the main theme.
The pigment analysis shows Rembrandt's choice of the usual baroque pigments such as red ochre, lead-tin-yellow, madder lake and smalt and also his elaborate multilayer painting technique.