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Rembrandt, Anna and the Blind Tobit

Key facts
Full title Anna and the Blind Tobit
Artist Rembrandt
Artist dates 1606 - 1669
Date made about 1630
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 63.8 × 47.7 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1926
Inventory number NG4189
Location Room 22
Collection Main Collection
Anna and the Blind Tobit

A cold, grey light creeps through an open window into a room that is itself very old – no glass in the window, a heavy wooden shutter, an open fire with an earthenware pot beside it. The light falls onto an old man. He sits facing into the room, his hands clasped, his head lowered, his face almost lost in shadow. This is Tobit; he sits near his wife Anna, who winds wool on a frame. An apocryphal story tells us that Tobit was a good and holy man but that God made him blind to test his faith.

The old couple await the return of their son Tobias, who has gone to collect money owed to Tobit in order to relieve their poverty. After many adventures Tobias returns, bringing a miraculous cure for Tobit’s blindness. Rather than the miracle, Rembrandt has chosen to celebrate the age, patience and faith of the old man and woman while they wait.

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