This magnificent baroque canvas by the Genoese painter Valerio Castello depicts the climactic moment from the apocryphal Old Testament Book of Tobit.

The scene shows the Archangel Raphael instructing Tobit’s son Tobias to cure his father’s blindness by rubbing his eyes with gall from a miraculous fish.

Castello, the son of artist Bernardo Castello, trained in his native city and absorbed the influence of baroque painters during the periods he spent living in Milan and Parma. Back in Genoa, he particularly admired the work of Anthony van Dyck, who lived and worked in the city in the 1620s.

Castello established a thriving workshop in Genoa and was admired as much for his preparatory studies as he was for his finished paintings (two such studies exist for this work). Orders for his canvases came from across Europe.

Tobias Healing the Blind Tobit, with its dynamic composition, lively brushwork and rich colours, is a fine example of Castello’s mature style. It marks a highpoint in his career before his success was cut short by his premature death in 1659.

The painting has been on loan to the Ferens since 1973, and now becomes an important addition to the significant holdings of Italian Renaissance and baroque paintings in the gallery’s permanent collection.


Sold 3 December 1926, London; Paul Wengraf, The Old Arcade Gallery, London, 1967; Acquired by John Simon; then transferal of ownership to his sons, William Simon and Jacob Simon in 2001. An Art Loss Register certificate has been received.

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