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Domenichino, Landscape with Tobias laying hold of the Fish

Key facts
Full title Landscape with Tobias laying hold of the Fish
Artist Domenichino
Artist dates 1581 - 1641
Date made about 1610-13
Medium and support Oil on copper
Dimensions 45.1 × 33.9 cm
Acquisition credit Holwell Carr Bequest, 1831
Inventory number NG48
Location Room 37
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Landscape with Tobias laying hold of the Fish

A young man kneels on a river bank, struggling to pull a large, wriggling fish out of the water. Behind him an angel points to the fish, and is clearly instructing him what to do with it. This is the story of Tobias and the Angel as told in the apocryphal Book of Tobit. Following the angel’s directions, Tobias will catch the fish and remove its gall to restore his blind father’s sight.

Although this is a biblical story, the setting and dress of the figures is classical in style. Domenichino was a pupil of Annibale Carracci, whose sweeping ‘heroic’ panoramas often included identifiable figures. Like Annibale, Domenichino structured his landscapes carefully, using a winding river to draw the viewer’s eye into the distance, while two trees act as stage-like wings. The leaning tree on the left parallels the diagonal of the angel’s leaning body, while the gesture of his arm is echoed by the roots and branches of the trees on the river bank behind him.

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