drawing

Tobias restoring his father's sight; interior with Tobit seated near a window, behind him Tobias glances at the angel whose hand rests on his shoulder, a woman kneels holding a basin, and another gazes into Tobit's face. c.1637 (?) Pen and brown ink, touched with brown wash

AN222778001001

© The Trustees of the British Museum

Department: Prints & Drawings

Registration number: 1900,1221.1

Bibliographic reference
Hind 1915-31 38 (as Rembrandt)
Royalton-Kisch 2010 Drost.8

Location:
Dutch Roy XVIIc

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Object types
drawing (scope note | all objects)

Materials
paper (all objects)
Techniques
drawn (scope note | all objects)
Production person
Attributed to Willem Drost (biographical details | all objects)
Formerly attributed to Rembrandt (biographical details | all objects)
Date
1650-1655 (circa)
Schools /Styles
Dutch (scope note | all objects)


Description
Tobias restoring his father's sight; interior with Tobit seated near a window, behind him Tobias glances at the angel whose hand rests on his shoulder, a woman kneels holding a basin, and another gazes into Tobit's face. c.1650-55
Pen and brown ink, with some brown wash and rubbing with the finger.
Verso: see Inscriptions.
No watermarks.

Inscriptions
Inscription Content: Inscribed verso, in pen and brown ink: ‘Tobit receiving his Sight a very splendid Sketch.’; lower right: ‘41’; lower centre (almost erased): ‘Rembrandt’.


Dimensions
Height: 153 millimetres
Width: 215 millimetres (chain lines horizontal, 22mm apart)


Condition
Faded and discoloured; worn at edges, where trimmed above and to right; a few touches by a later hand in the legs of the kneeling woman.

Curator's comments
Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, 'Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school', 2010, attributed to Willem Drost, cat. no.8:
The subject, from the apocryphal 'Book of Tobit' (XI, 11-14), was frequently depicted by Rembrandt and his pupils and the style of the present drawing clearly depends on his own.[1]
An attribution to Willem Drost is worthy of consideration: comparison with the generally accepted drawing of 'Ruth and Naomi' in Bremen (Benesch C100; Sumowski 546) is revealing. Both exhibit similar distortions in the figures' proportions; but above all the treatment of the drapery, especially that of Tobit and the woman on the left of the British Museum sheet, is closely comparable, and resembles as well the drapery in the 'Rest on the Flight into Egypt' (here cat. no.1, 1895,0915.1255).[2] Yet the comparison is not wholly persuasive. The style, as in Drost's work, follows Rembrandt closely, as seen, for example, in the 'Homer reciting' in the Six Album (Benesch 913), and the drawing could be by another pupil active in the studio in the same years as Drost. A date in the early part of the 1650s, around 1650-55, seems likely.

NOTES:
[1] See Held, 1964, for a discussion of Rembrandt's treatments of the theme (with a list on page 29, n.1; also in Amsterdam, 1981, p.37, n.1 and p.38, n.5); also Corpus, I, p.87 and III, under no.C86, on both the iconographic and medical aspects of Rembrandt's interest in the 'Book of Tobit'.
[2] The comparison first made by Benesch (see Lit. below). One might also compare the 'Judith returning in Triumph', here cat. no.2, 1900,1221.2, with which the present drawing was acquired.

LITERATURE :
London, 1915, no.38, repr. pl.VII (by Rembrandt; compares painting of the subject of 1636 in Stuttgart, Corpus C86, Bredius 502 and 'Angel departing from Tobit and his Family', Paris, Corpus A121, Bredius 503, of 1637); Valentiner, I, 1925, no.250, repr. (c.1640, if autograph); Benesch, VI, 1957/73, under no.A94 (perhaps by same hand as his group around no.A94, here cat. no.1); Amsterdam, 1981, p.38, n.5 (listing versions of the subject).

EARLIER NOTE:
The subject is treated somewhat similarly in a picture dated 1636 in the Duc d'Aremberg's collection, Brussels (Bode 216). Stylistically close to Willem Drost.


Subject
old testament (all objects)

Associated names
Representation of Tobit (biographical details | all objects)
Representation of Tobias (biographical details | all objects)


Acquisition date
1900

Acquisition name
Purchased from Edgar Alexander (biographical details | all objects)
Previous owner/ex-collection Francis Abbott (L.970; not described in his 1922 sale catalogue) (biographical details | all objects)


Exhibition History
London, 1901, no.A113;
1938, no.38;
1956, p.25, no.15.


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