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Image of 'Tobias and the Angel', 1470-80, by the workshop of Andrea del Verrocchio. The National Gallery, London.

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Teachers' Notes

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'Tobias and the Angel', 1470-80
by the Workshop of Andrea del Verrocchio
London, The National Gallery.

For 2009/10, the one-day 'Take One Picture' Continuing Professional Development courses, run by National Gallery Education, focused on 'Tobias and the Angel' by the Workshop of Andrea del Verrocchio.

The course looked at ways of using paintings in the classroom as a starting point for delivering many areas of the National Curriculum. This principle aligns closely with the DCSF Primary National Strategy: Excellence and Enjoyment, which supports a holistic approach to the curriculum by exploiting the links between subject areas.

The subject is taken from the apocryphal Book of Tobit. Tobias was sent by his blind father, the merchant Tobit, to collect a debt. 'Ricordo' (memorandum) is written on a small scroll in the boy's hand. The Archangel Raphael who accompanies Tobias instructs him to extract the heart, liver and gall from a fish as a cure to heal his father's blindness. Raphael is shown holding a small box containing the remedy.

The story of Tobias and the angel was a popular subject in 15th-century Florence, where a confraternity of Saint Raphael flourished. Raphael was venerated as a protector of travellers and as a healer. The theme of filial piety, enterprise and charity was important for the merchant families of the city.

It is likely that more than one artist worked on the painting, consistent with practice in Verrocchio's workshop. Some parts - most notably the dog - have been plausibly proposed as the work of the young Leonardo.

A display of work produced by schools based on this painting will be shown at the National Gallery in Spring 2011, and a selection will also be displayed on this website. To be considered for this gallery display, submit examples of how a whole class or school has used the picture in a cross-curricular way (no original work please) to the Education Department by Monday 1 November 2010.

Click here to view work from the 2011 exhibition, inspired by this painting.

© The National Gallery, London


'Mr and Mrs Andrews'

'Saint Michael Triumphant over the Devil'

'Bathers at Asnieres'

'Still Life with Drinking-Horn'

'The Family of Darius before Alexander'

'Tobias and the Angel'

'The Umbrellas'

'The Fighting Temeraire'

'An Autumn Landscape with a View of Het Steen in the Early Morning'

'Two Boys and a Girl making Music'

'The Marquise de Seignelay and Two of her Sons'

'Beach Scene'

'The Stonemason's Yard'

'Saint George and the Dragon'

'Bacchus and Ariadne'

'The Graham Children'

'The Hay Wain'

'Seaport with the Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba'

'The Castle of Muiden in Winter'

'The Ambassadors'

'The Wilton Diptych'