|Rembrandt. Tobit and Anna. 1626.
The story of Tobit and Anna and their son Tobias is told in the apocryphal
Book of Tobit. God tested them by reducing them to poverty and causing
Tobit's blindness (from sparrow's droppings !). In the 17th century they were
considered to be examples of piety in adversity. For eight years, he prayed
for his sight restored.
His prayers were answered in a roundabout way through the adventures of
his son Tobias, aided at every turn by the archangel Raphael. One night when
they camped by the Tigris River, a fish leapt from the water. Tobias caught
and ate it, but on Raphaels advice kept the heart, liver, and gall of the fish.
Raphael led Tobias to the beautiful Sarah, unmarried because the demon
Asmodeus has killed each of her seven husbands. Marrying Sarah, Tobias
drove away Asmodeus by burning the fish's heart and liver on an incense
fire in the bridal chamber.
At last Tobias returned home with Sarah and Raphael. tobias took out the fish
gall and placed it upon his father's eyes, restoring Tobit's sight.
Oil on panel.
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.