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Massys, Cornelis
Tobias and the Angel taking leave of his Parents; No. 3 in a series of 8: The Story of Tobias
around 1550

Cornelis Massys, the son of Quinten Metsys, produced a large number of graphic works that focus on religious and moralizing themes. Massys began engraving in the 1530s and showed interest in the prints of the German Little Masters. Although he never directly copied the works of these printmakers, Massys often worked on a small scale, as is noticeable in a series of works he made around 1550 dedicated to the apocryphal Book of Tobit. These prints are barely larger than postage stamps and while they do not carry an abundance of details, they are finely engraved. The third plate in this series illustrates a scene from chapter five of the Book of Tobit. The blind Tobit sits on a bench, while the Archangel Raphael extends his right hand as a means to introduce himself to the former. Tobias and Anna stand between the two other figures. Though Anna is often depicted in visual renderings of this biblical passage, she usually occupies a marginal role. Here, however, she appears to act as an intermediary between her husband and the divine messenger. Anna takes pity on Tobit and attempts to console her despondent spouse. Massys seems to imply that she has more faith in Tobias’s return from his journey to Rages than does the downcast Tobit.

 
Massys, Cornelis
Antwerp, Belgium around 1510–Antwerp, Belgium around 1557
Tobias and the Angel taking leave of his Parents; No. 3 in a series of 8: The Story of Tobias
around 1550
Engraving, state 1 of 2
overall: 7.2 cm x 9.2 cm
Purchase, Bader Acquisition Fund, 2010
53-046.054

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