Tobias and the Angel (Filippino Lippi)

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Tobias and the Angel
Tobias and the Angel - Filippino Lippi.jpg
Artist Filippino Lippi
Yearc. 1475–1480
TypeOil and tempera on panel
Dimensions32.7 cm× 23.5 cm(12.9 in× 9.3 in)
LocationNational Gallery of Art, Washington

Tobias and the Angel is an oil and tempera on poplar panel painting by the Florentine Renaissance painter Filippino Lippi, dating from c. 1475–1480. It is housed in the National Gallery of Art of Washington, DC. [1] [2] [3]



The work, in oil paint and tempera on a poplar panel, measures 32.7 cm × 23.5 cm (12.9 in × 9.3 in). It depicts a biblical scene of Tobias and Raphael. In the Book of Tobit, Tobias, son of the blinded Tobit, was sent from Nineveh to Ecbatana to collect a debt The archangel Raphael, disguised as the human Azariah, was sent to accompany Tobias on his errand. On the journey, the angel will advise Tobias to catch a fish from the River Tigris and then to create remedy for his father's blindness using the fish's gall.

The two main figures are depicted walking through a landscape, accompanied by a white dog, with trees and a river, and a tall tower to the right. They are arm in arm, their blond heads inclined towards each other, with their slightly unstable posture indicating they are walking. The winged Raphael in a blue gown and Tobias in a blue tunic with red cloak. The boy holds the fish in his left hand, and the angel holds a small golden mortar to make the remedy in his right hand.

The subject of Tobias and the Angel was popular with the wealthy merchants of Renaissance Florence, combining themes of the recovery of debts, the healing of the sick, a youth taking good advice from his elders and developing into adulthood, and Christ (the fish) and baptism (the waters of the Tigris). It also had resonances with the common experience of merchants' sons being sent on trading missions to distant locations.


Trained initially by his father Filippo Lippi, after his father's death Filippino Lippi became a pupil of Sandro Botticelli in 1472. This painting is an early work, with a similar composition to earlier works by Antonio del Pollaiuolo and Andrea del Verrocchio. A later painting by Filippino Lippi, his c. 1485 Three Angels and Young Tobias , in the Galleria Sabauda in Turin, depicts a similar scene, with Tobias accompanied by the archangels Raphael, Michael, and Gabriel.

The early history of the painting is not known. It was sold from the collection of Alexander Barker in 1879, and passed through the collections of William Cornwallis-West, and Robert Henry Benson. The Benson Collection was sold to Duveen Brothers in 1927, and the painting was acquired by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation in 1936. It was donated to the National Gallery of Art of Washington, DC in 1939 and where it is held as part of the gallery's Samuel H. Kress Collection.

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  1. "Filippino Lippi (ca. 1457–1504)". Retrieved 9 December 2015.
  2. Filippino Lippi, Tobias and the Angel, c. 1475/1480, National Gallery of Art
  3. Tobias and the Angel, Filippino Lippi, Google Arts & Culture