Tobias and the Archangel Raphael
Viceroyalty of New Granada Late 17th-early 18th Century
Oil on canvas
Canvas 13 1/4 x 10 3/4 inches
The scene depicts the Archangel Raphael (whose name means ‘God heals’) giving instructions to Tobias (Tobit's son) to collect a fish's gall to cure his father's blindness.
Next to Tobias, the pomegranate and a branch of red coral are symbols of Christ's Passion and Resurrection.
Coral refers to Christ's blood (Passion), and since antiquity it was used to ward off evil. It was believed to have sprung from Medusa's blood after she was beheaded.
The pomegranate refers to the resurrection of Christ but since antiquity was associated with the myth of Persephone (Spring) and Hades (God of the Underworld). And in this case, the granada (pomegranate) is also a symbol for the Viceroyalty of New Granada. The delicacy of the figures, and the intricate raised and gilded patterns on the archangel’s garments and crown easily point to an origin in/around (in this writer’s opinion) Quito.