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Mattia Preti

Tobit Blessing Tobias


Mattia Preti
Taverna, Italy, 1613 – Valletta, Malta, 1699


Tobit Blessing Tobias


About 1660


Oil on canvas


130.3 x 180.2 cm


Purchase, Horsley and Annie Townsend Bequest, inv. 1960.1268


Western Art

The direct, dramatic appeal, sincerity and rich colourism of Preti's art, as well as the vigour and sprezzatura (spontaneous brushstroke) of his rival Giordano, reinvigorated the Neapolitan school of painting of the Baroque period, when it had declined into a derivative iteration of late Caravaggism. Yet Preti’s residence in Naples only lasted from 1653 to 1660. We know little about Preti’s training, but to his initial disposition towards the tenebroso character of Caravaggism he infused the contemporary currents of Roman and Venetian vigour and colourism, the latter reflecting the profound influence of Veronese. This remarkably panoply of influences informing his stylistic development, however, was always synthesized with his Caravaggesque roots. This subject, very briefly recounted in the Apocrypha in the Book of Tobit, taken from the Old Testament, depicts the moment when the blind Tobit, in the presence of his wife, blesses his son Tobias and the angel Raphael.

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