Tobias and the Angel

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


The painting entered the Borghese Collection in 1911 but was attributed 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. Furthermore, the landscape foreshadows different artworks by Adam Elsheimer over fifty years later.


The painting shows the protagonist’s encounter with the angel preceding catching the fish in the Tigris. Although the two figures are illustrated facing each other, Savoldo has used the same colors for their clothes: mostly red and various shades 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 colors seen in the distance using methods taught by Leonardo. Moreover, silvery light is a feature of his paintings, distinguishing the artist from other Venetian painters like Titian, who influenced him, as did Lorenzo Lotto.

Borghese Gallery in Rome,
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Author: Girolamo Savoldo

Girolamo Savoldo

Girolamo Savoldo (1480-1485 – after 1548), also called Girolamo da Brescia, was an Italian High Renaissance painter active mainly 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 primarily religious subjects, with a few portraits. There are about 40 paintings by Girolamo Savoldo, and six are portraits. He was profoundly respected in his lifetime; a few repetitions of works were commissioned, and others did copies.

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