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Unknown Artist (after Maerten van Heemskerck)
Tobias Catching the Fish; No. 4 in a series of 10: The Story of Tobias
1556

Tobias Catching the Fish represents one of the more popular moments of the apocryphal Book of Tobit that sixteenth- and seventeenth-century artists chose to convey in print form. Once Tobias and the angel arrive to the Tigris River, they decide to lodge near the stream of water for the night. Tobias goes to the river to wash himself and a fish leaps out at him. The Archangel Raphael orders his companion to retrieve the fish from the river. The size of the fish and its features often varied from one print to the other, and here, the artist gave it a large scale as it dwarfs Tobias’s dog by a sizable margin. In this print, the menacing fish appears more like a sea creature that is ready to devour Tobias. Tobias has a foot in the water as he latches on to the creature’s pectoral fins. In the middle ground, the angel, sitting on a cubic block beneath a few trees, instructs Tobias to cut open the fish to remove its heart, liver and gall. While Tobias obeys his companion’s command, the former’s dog chomps on bits and pieces of the discarded fish. The elevated buildings and the looming mountaintop in the distance highlight the monumentality of the landscape.

 
Unknown Artist (after Maerten van Heemskerck)
Belgium, sixteenth century
Tobias Catching the Fish; No. 4 in a series of 10: The Story of Tobias
1556
Engraving, state 1 of 1
overall: 20 cm x 24.4 cm
Purchase, Bader Acquisition Fund, 2010
53-046.033

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