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Salvator Rosa, Landscape with Tobias and the Angel

Key facts
Full title Landscape with Tobias and the Angel
Artist Salvator Rosa
Artist dates 1615 - 1673
Date made probably 1660-73
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 147.4 × 224 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1959
Inventory number NG6298
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Landscape with Tobias and the Angel
Salvator Rosa

The apocryphal Book of Tobit describes how Tobit, a blind old man, sent his son Tobias to the distant city of Media to collect a debt. The boy was accompanied by the Archangel Raphael, protector of travellers. In this painting, Tobias struggles with a fish that had tried to devour him, as Raphael informs him that its heart, liver and gall bladder could be used for medicine (these organs would later restore Tobit’s sight).

Salvator Rosa liked to build up dark, heavy forms in the foreground of his paintings; here, a cliff face rises up on the right, its lower half in a deep shadow that is interrupted by the gleam of a gushing waterfall. The figures are small within this dramatic landscape: Tobias, holding the fish, struggles against the current, watched by Raphael and a little dog. Above, a flight of birds leads our gaze from the rocky gorge to the open, mountainous landscape and menacing clouds beyond.

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