Landscape with Tobias and the Angel
31 cm x 40.5 cm (12 3/16 in. x 15 15/16 in.)
Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri)
(Cento, Italy, 1591 - 1666, Bologna, Italy)
Medium and Support:
Oil on copper
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Suida-Manning Collection, 2017
Archangel Raphael points to a great fish located at the painting’s bottom edge and instructs a surprised, bathing Tobias to seize it. Tobias, the son of the title character in the Book of Tobit, would later use the fish’s entrails to cure the blindness of his father and to dispel a demon tormenting his future wife, Sara.
Guercino was a leading painter in the Bolognese school of the seventeenth century. He was known for his ability to communicate emotion through human gesture and expression. His talent for depicting contrasts in light also appears in the painting’s dark landscape lit by a setting sun, which echoes Tobias’ story of faith and revelation. This rare work is likely Guercino’s only landscape painting on copper to incorporate a religious narrative.