BICCI DI NERI
(b. 1419, Firenze, d. 1491, Firenze)
Tobias and the Angel and St Jerome-
Tempera and gold on wood, 33 x 24 cm
Christian Museum, Esztergom
This small work, of which several versions and a nearly identical copy survive (Museo Horne, Florence) recounts the biblical story of Tobias who set out on a long trip under the protection of the Archangel Raphael in order to reclaim the deposited family fortune. On the trip, he also found medication for his father's blindness in the gall of a fish. Raphael had a great cult in Florence; also a confraternity was named after him. According to a widely accepted hypothesis, these small pictures were created as votive pieces: rich merchant families may have ordered them for their sons who went on long business trips and who were thus recommended for the archangel's protection. In these works, Raphael and Tobias are often accompanied by another saint here St Jerome who may appear as the personal patron saint of the traveller.