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PROSTRATING THEMSELVES BEFORE THE ANGEL GABRIEL.
TOBIT, a pious man, of the tribe of Naphtali, becoming accidentally blind, sent his son to Ragès, in order to recover some money he had lent to Gabelus. The angel Raphael, under a human form, accompanied the youth during his journey, and caused him to marry his cousin Sarah, the widow of seven husbands, whom the devil had destroyed. Tobit afterwards returned to his father's house, whose sight he restored by the scale of a fish, that had been indicated to him by the angel. At the moment when the two Israelites were desirous of loading him with presents, in testimony of their gratitude, he resumed his natural figure, and disappeared.
This is the moment, chosen by Rembrandt, for the subject of his picture. It presents the most striking beauties, and the greatest defects. The expression of the personages is correct; their attitudes skilfully denote surprize and admiration; the chiaro-scuro is perfectly displayed; and the colouring possesses all that vigour and truth, which placed Rembrandt in the rank of the first painters. The drawing of the figures is, however, extremely incorrect. In regard to the drapery, one can scarcely imagine any thing more capricious; and it is almost superfluous to observe, in this part of his art, to
what degree the painter has erred against all rule and propriety.
The genuine works of this master are rarely to be met with; and, whenever they are to be purchased, they produce incredible prices. Many of them, however, are perserved in the rich collections of the English nobility. The etchings of Rembrandt are likewise exceedingly admired, and collected with great care and expence, for the cabinets of the curious, in most parts of Europe; and it is remarked, that none of his prints are dated earlier than 1628, nor later than 1659, though
there are several of his paintings, dated in 1660, particularly the portrait of the Franciscan Friar.