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The Archangel Raphael and Tobias
Claude (Lorrain, byname of Claude Gellée)
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Claude (Lorrain, byname of Claude Gellée)

Chamagne, 1600 - Rome, 1682

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The Archangel Raphael and Tobias

1639 - 1640. Oil on canvas.
Room 002

This painting shows the moment when, following an angel’s instructions, Tobias pulls out an enormous fish’s heart and entrails to cure his father’s blindness with them (Book of Tobit: VII, 15). The setting is a landscape with a flowing river that runs diagonally behind the figures. Three fifths of the canvas are occupied by the sky, beginning at the top with an intense blue and concluding at the horizon with a more reddish tone that imbues the composition with an air of poetic dreaminess unprecedented in Lorrain’s painting. John Smith (1837), Marcel Roethlisberger (1961) and all later critics have put forth multiple arguments for the idea that this painting was conceived as a companion to the Embarkation of Saint Paula Romana (P2254) and that the two faced the pair formed by Landscape with the Finding of Moses (P2253) and the Burial of Saint Serapia (P2252). Supporters of this hypothesis allege a long list of contrasts that supposedly constitute irrefutable proof of the wisdom of that association. Nonetheless, many more arguments can be made in favor of relating the two early Christian saints (Paula Romana and Serapia), on one hand, and the two Bible scenes (Tobias and Moses), on the other. This idea is further supported by the fact that the compositions mirror each other, so that the main elements of one painting find their equivalents in the other. Thus, the depictions of Tobias and Moses share several elements, including a similar placement of the figures involved in the narrative (on the same plane, close to the viewer), a river running diagonally across the composition, the presence of lesser elements that humanize the landscape (the tower and the bridge), a horizon at the same height, and finally, wooded areas on the ends. The main elements that define each composition are not present in Lorrain’s earlier or later works, with the exception of the ruins of the tower on the river’s left bank, which also appear in his Landscape with the Flight to Egypt (1639, Notre Dame, Ind., University Art Gallery; Roethlisberger 1961). Lorrain painted Raphael and Tobias on very few occasions, and never as he did here, with the child pulling out the fish’s entrails in search of a cure for his father’s illness. On later occasions, he treated this and other subjects (Agar and the Angel, Saint John the Baptist Among the Angels) in a more agreeable fashion -sometimes like an authentic pastoral landscape, which was much closer to his artistic sensibilities. Like his other paintings from the so-called second series for the Buen Retiro Palace, this one is recorded in a sketch in the Liber Veritatus (no. 50) that barely varies from the painting at the Museo del Prado. It bears an inscription indicating that it was commissioned by Philip IV. Despite some hesitancy in the Museo del Prado’s historic inventories, there is no reason whatsoever to doubt the attribution of these figures to Claude Lorrain.

The formidable campaign of arts acquisitions carried out by the Count-Duke of Olivares in the 1640s to decorate the vast spaces at Madrid’s Buen Retiro Palace included a very notable number of landscapes. Of these works -almost two hundred in all- we cannot determine how many were purchased in Flanders or Spain, nor which ones came from private collections or other Royal Seats, but thanks to the works at the Museo del Prado and documents found to date, we can establish with certainty that the Buen Retiro Palace was furnished with numerous landscapes painted for the occasion by artists active in Rome.

A series of at least twenty-five landscapes with anchorites and a dozen Italianate landscapes -large format works by different artists- were commissioned. Of the pieces that have survived, most are at the Museo del Prado.

Commissioned in Rome between 1633 and 1641, these landscape paintings from the Buen Retiro constituted an early anthology of this new painting from nature characterized by a new awareness of the effects of light and the atmosphere of the Roman countryside that would eventually spread through most of Europe, representing one of many aspects of classicism (Text drawn from Posada Kubissa, T.: Pintura holandesa en el Museo Nacional del Prado. Catálogo razonado, 2009, pp. 230-232; Capitelli, G. in Úbeda de los Cobos, A.: El Palacio del Rey Planeta. Felipe IV y el Buen Retiro, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2005, p. 241).


Technical data

Inventory number
Claude (Lorrain, byname of Claude Gellée)
The Archangel Raphael and Tobias
1639 - 1640
Height: 211 cm; Width: 145 cm
Paisajes para el Palacio del Buen Retiro
Royal Collection (Buen Retiro Palace, Madrid, 1701, [no. 166]; New Royal Palace, Madrid, "estudio de Andrés de la Calleja", 1772, no. 166; Buen Retiro Palace, 1794, no. 1058).

Bibliography +

Inventario Nuevo Palacio Real, Madrid, 1772.

Colección litográfica de cuadros del Rey de España el Señor, I, Madrid, 1826, pp. estampa V.

Smith, J., A Catalogue Raisonné of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish and French Painters; in which is Included a Short Biographical Notice of the Artists, Londres, 1837.

Dimier, Louis, Histoire de la peinture de portrait en France au XVI siecle, G.Van Oest et Cie, Paris.Bruselas, 1924.

Roethlisberger, Marcel, Claude Lorrain: the Paintings, I, Hacker Art Books, New Haven, 1961, pp. 168-169 y 186/ lám.115 y 97.

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972.

Luna, Juan José, Precisiones sobre las pinturas de Claudio de Lorena en el Museo del Prado, Boletín del Museo del Prado, II, 1981, pp. 104.

Claudio de Lorena y el ideal clásico de paisaje en el siglo, Ministerio de Cultura, Dirección General de Bellas, Madrid, 1984, pp. 150.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 373-374.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado. Inventario general de pinturas (I) La Colección Real, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990.

Vega, Jesusa, Museo del Prado: catálogo de estampas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1992, pp. 245.

Bettagno, Alessandro, El Museo del Prado, Fonds Mercator Fundación Amigos del Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1996, pp. 534.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Velázquez, Rubens, Lorrain: Malerei am Hof Philipps IV, Kunst-und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deu, Bonn, 1999, pp. 184.

Capitelli, Giovanna, Los paisajes para el Palacio del Buen Retiro, En: El Palacio del Rey Planeta. Felipe IV y el Buen Retiro, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2005, pp. 280.

Fábulas de Velázquez. Mitología e Historia Sagrada en el Siglo de Oro / edición a cargo de Javier Portús Pérez, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2007, pp. 323.

Merot, Alain, Du paysage en peinture : dans l' Occident moderne, Gallimard, 2009, pp. 110,125/ 19,23.

Morán Turina, José Miguel, La memoria de las piedras: anticuarios, arqueólogos y coleccionistas de antigüedades en la España de los Austrias, Centro de Estudios Europa Hispánica, Madrid, 2010, pp. 88.

Roma naturaleza e ideal: paisajes 1600-1650, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2011, pp. 43, 198-9.

Other inventories +

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos II, Buen Retiro, 1701-1703. Núm. [166].
[166] Un Pais con dos Uaras y media de alto y siette quartas de ancho de mano del Ytaliano Con Vna puesta del sol y touias y el Anjel San Raphael Con marco tallado y dorado tasado en settenta Doblones ... 4.200

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Buen Retiro, 1794. Núm. 1058.
{3421} 1058 / Otra [pintura] de Claudio Lorenès, con Sn. Rafael y Tovias, igual al anterior en su medida [dos varas y media de alto y dos varas de ancho] ... 3000

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 1080.
1080. Pais: Con efecto de sol poniente. / En primer término, con diferentes planos, se ve una basta llanura, en medio de la cual está el arcángel Rafael con el joven Tobías. A la derecha hay varios grupos de árboles, entre los cuales se eleva un gigantesco pino que corona casi todo el cuadro. Un río divide la campiña, cortada con peñascos y árboles, y sobre una colina se ve una atalaya. Más lejos se percibe una grande estencion de terreno, con bosques, poblaciones etc. El rio corre desde el horizonte hasta el primer termino, y los rayos del sol poniente rielan en sus agas entre el vapor...

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 1080.

Inv. Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1772. Núm. 166.
Estudio de don Andres de la Calleja Pintor de Cámara de su magd. [...] {13332} 166 / =Retiro= Otro pais de vna ria donde esta Tobias con San Rafael igual [dos varas y media de alto y dos escasas de ancho] y del mismo autor [Claudio lorenes]

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1873-1907. Núm. 1988.
1988.-(1080-I.)-País.-Campiña cortada por un rio, peñascos y árboles.-En primer término una vasta llanura con figuras que representan al jóven Tobías y al arcángel Rafael; más léjos bosques, poblaciones, etc. Desde el horizante hasta el primer plano corre el caudaloso Tigris. Efecto de sol poniente.-Figuras de G. Courtois.-Compañero de los tres anteriores. / Pintado para el rey Felipe IV.-C.L. / Alto 2,08; ancho 1,43.-L.

Inscriptions +

Signed. Front, Lower right area

Inscribed in orange. Front, lower left corner

Exhibitions +

Velázquez and the Golden Age
16.11.2018 - 03.03.2019

Rome: Nature and the Ideal. Landscapes 1600-1650
05.07.2011 - 25.09.2011

Nature et idéal. Le paysage à Rome 1600-1650 - Landscape
08.03.2011 - 06.06.2011

Velázquez’s Fables. Mythology and Sacred History in the Golden Age
20.11.2007 - 24.02.2008

El palacio del Rey Planeta. Felipe IV y el Buen Retiro
06.07.2005 - 30.10.2005

Velázquez, Rubens, Claudio de Lorena y la pintura en la corte de Felipe IV
07.10.1999 - 23.01.2000

Location +

Room 002 (On Display)

Update date: 11-04-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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