GUARDI, Gianantonio
(b. 1699, Wien, d. 1760, Venezia)

The Marriage of Tobias

c. 1750
Oil on canvas
Chiesa dell'Angelo Raffaele, Venice

To the middle years of the eighteenth century belongs one of the most remarkable examples of decorative painting in Venice. The ancient church of the Angelo Raffaele (perhaps founded as early as the seventh century) is now rather out of the way and looks dull in its unfinished form, which dates from the sixteenth or seventeenth century. Inside, above the doorway, is a great Baroque organ loft, its parapet decorated with a cycle of seven brilliantly painted scenes. The scenes are episodes from the story of Tobias, who is guided by Archangel Raphael to catch a miraculous fish that will heal his father's blindness. The painting is by Gianantonio Guardi, one of the important artists 'rediscovered' by the twentieth century. Long almost forgotten, the painter here emerges as one of the most imaginative artists of the eighteenth century. Gianantonio trained his younger brother Francesco Guardi, who collaborated on these decorations.

The picture shows the principal scene that occupies the parapet of the organ loft. The centre of the painting is empty, except for a distant landscape. Tobias and his wife, Sarah, are represented on the right in prayer before their nuptial bed.