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Horst, Gerrit Willemsz
Tobias Cleaning the Fish Tobias Cleaning the Fish
around 1652 around 1652

According to the apocryphal Book of Tobit (6:1-6), Tobit’s son Tobias is on his way to Rages accompanied by the archangel Raphael when a fish jumps out of a stream, startling the youth. The angel instructs Tobias to catch the fish and remove its internal organs. The gall of the fish would later cure Tobit’s blindness, and its heart and liver would dispel the evil spirit that had killed the seven previous husbands of Tobias’s future wife, Sarah. Several pictures based on this text survive from the hand of the Rembrandt pupil Gerritt Willemsz. Horst, who seems to have had a special interest in the story. In this version, Horst has depicted Tobias as a young boy. On his knees at the water’s edge, he bends over to disembowel the fish. As the boy grips the fish and cuts its underbelly, Raphael looks on attentively, loosely holding the walking stick that signals their status as travellers. He is portrayed with long golden hair, a white gown and wings, although the text clearly relates how Raphael disguises himself as a young man, Azarius, and only reveals his angelic identity much later. In this, however, Horst was following the conventional undisguised depiction of Raphael, which made the subject of the image clear to its viewers.

 
Horst, Gerrit Willemsz
Muiden, Netherlands c. 1612-Amsterdam, Netherlands 1652 Muiden, Netherlands c. 1612-Amsterdam, Netherlands 1652
Tobias Cleaning the Fish Tobias Cleaning the Fish
around 1652 around 1652
Oil on panel Oil on panel
overall: 115.2 cm x 84.5 cm
Gift of Alfred and Isabel Bader, 2011 Gift of Alfred and Isabel Bader, 2011
54-005

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