Tobias and the Angel

Tobias and the Angel is an oil painting on canvas (120 x 160 cm) by Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo, which dates to 1527.


The painting entered the Borghese Collection in 1911, but firstly bore an attribution to Titian. However, Titian’s style influenced Savoldo’s career, but there is a disagreement among scholars about the date of the painting. For instance, Paola Della Pergola claims that it was executed in 1540 and its palette, with cold tones, recalls the work of Girolamo Romanino and the young Moretto, and the landscape foreshadows different artworks by Adam Elsheimer over fifty years later.


The painting shows the protagonist’s encounter with the angel, preceding the catching of the fish in the Tigris. Despite the fact that two figures are illustrated facing each other, Savoldo has used the same colours for their clothes: mostly red and various shade of white from the angel’s wings, which stand out against the dark trees in the background.

The head of Tobias is most probably is modelled on that of the angel in the upper left panel of Titian’s Averoldi Altar, which arrived in Brescia in 1522


Savoldo has produced a synthesis of his research into the effects of nature on the human figure, on drapery and on foliage, which is pierced by light, and on the quality of colours seen in the distance, by using methods taught by Leonardo. Moreover, silvery light is a feature of his paintings, which distinguishes the artist from other Venetian painters like Titian, who also influenced him, as did Lorenzo Lotto.

Borghese Gallery in Rome,

Author: Girolamo Savoldo

Girolamo Savoldo

(1480-1485 – after 1548), also called Girolamo da Brescia, was an Italian High Renaissance painter active mostly in Venice, but he also worked in other cities in Northern Italy. He is known for his subtle use of color and chiaroscuro, and the sober realism of his works, which are mostly religious subjects, with a few portraits. There are about 40 paintings by Girolamo Savoldo, where six of them are portraits. He was profoundly respected in his own lifetime, and a few repetitions of works were commissioned, and copies done by others.