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Currently shown
Henri Lehmann

The Education of Tobias

Artist

Henri Lehmann
Kiel, Germany, 1814 – Paris 1882

Title

The Education of Tobias

Date

1858

Materials

Oil on wood

Dimensions

55.8 x 45.8 cm

Credits

Purchase, the Museum Campaign 1988-1993 Fund, inv. 2005.98

Collection

Western Art

Lehmann, the foremost student of Ingres, created a very personal style, an essentially Germanic Romanticism tempered with the Classicism of Ingres. As one acquainted with Parisian high society, he made the likenesses of that ultimate Romantic couple, Franz Liszt and Marie d’Agoult, as well as portraying Stendhal, Gounod and other prominent personalities of his day. This painting is a very elaborate preparatory sketch for a composition entitled The Education of Tobias, presented at the Salon of 1859. The exchange between the blind man and his son is arresting. The scene takes place in front of Tobias’s mother, the quiet and kindly Anna, who is holding a distaff. The Book of Tobit, a story of miracles from the Old Testament Apocrypha, particularly interested Lehmann, who derived the subject of a number of paintings from it. Like Delaroche, Lehmann translated the visual language of Ingres into a tempered Romanticism. The bright light and strongly contrasting shadows produce a characteristic luminosity. The simplicity of the tight-knit composition and the sculptural quality of the group of figures bring an astonishingly monumental quality.

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