VERROCCHIO, Andrea del
(b. 1435, Firenze, d. 1488, Venezia)

Tobias and the Angel

Egg tempera on poplar, 84 x 66 cm
National Gallery, London

This painting is accepted by most critics as an autograph painting by Andrea del Verrocchio from the late 1470s. However, it is displayed in the National Gallery as a workshop production.

The blind old man Tobit, a merchant and devout Jew, sent his son, Tobias, on a long journey to collect a debt. God sent the Archangel Raphael - the winged figure on the left of the scene - to accompany Tobias and his dog. Tobias carries a fish that he has gutted; Raphael holds its organs in a little box, explaining they could be used as ointment to cure blindness.

Tobias and Raphael's journey was very popular in the late fifteenth century when devotion to the Archangel, known as Saint Raphael, was promoted by a number of confraternities dedicated to him. Verrocchio's painting shows close relationship with an earlier Tobias painting by Antonio Pollaiolo.