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Breenbergh, Bartholomeus (attributed to)
Tobias and the Fish Tobias and the Fish
around 1624 around 1624

On the right of this composition are two young men, one standing and pointing, the other down on one knee and raising his arms in surprise and fear. They are responding to the sight of the large fish that is emerging from the shallows at the centre of the painting. The work depicts the moment in the apocryphal Book of Tobit (6:2) when a giant fish leaps out of the River Tigris to attack the young Tobias. Accompanied by Azarius—actually the archangel Raphael in disguise—and his dog, Tobias has undertaken a long journey to collect a debt for his father, the blind Tobit. Azarius tells the frightened Tobias to catch the fish and to collect the liver, heart and gall, which will later be used to drive out the demon plaguing Tobias’s new bride, Sarah, and to cure his father’s blindness. Here, Azarius is pointing to the fish and calmly giving his instructions to Tobias, who is reacting in panic to the strange threat that is looming. Tobias’s raised brows and open mouth reinforce the sense of horror conveyed by his flailing arms. The dog’s fear is also graphically evoked in its wide eyes and bared teeth. The two figures in a boat on the extreme left have their backs to the scene and remain quite oblivious to its drama and emotion.

 
Breenbergh, Bartholomeus (attributed to)
Deventer, Netherlands 1598–Amsterdam, Netherlands 1657 Deventer, Netherlands 1598–Amsterdam, Netherlands 1657
Tobias and the Fish Tobias and the Fish
around 1624 around 1624
Oil on panel Oil on panel
overall: 24.2 cm x 33 cm
Gift of Alfred and Isabel Bader, 2012 Gift of Alfred and Isabel Bader, 2012
55-013.01

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