Rembrandt created some of the most extraordinarily creative and emotionally poignant drawings of the
Dutch golden age. With spontaneity, a deft hand, and deceptive simplicity, he recorded deeply personal observations of the world around him. Although this drawing depicts the climactic moment of the Book of Tobit, an apocryphal book of the Old Testament, it also references 16th-century life in Amsterdam. Instructed by the archangel Raphael, Tobit’s son Tobias restores his blind father’s sight by rubbing his eyes with fish gall. But instead of illustrating the miracle in explicitly supernatural terms, Rembrandt showed Tobias using a scalpel to perform a cataract operation on his father’s left eye-a procedure pioneered in Amsterdam in 1635 by the eye specialist Dr. Job Janszoon van Meekren.
Paris 1879, 99-100, no. 367; Paris 1908, 101, no. 322; cma 1970a; cma 1974-75; Washington et al. 1977 (frontispiece), 34 (repr.), 38-39, no. 34; cma 1982d; cma 1983f; Berlin et al. 1991, 70-72, no. 18.
The Cleveland Museum of Art (8/27/00 - 10/17/00); NY, NY: The Pierpont Morgan Library (5/24/01- 8/19/01); Museum of Fine Arts Houston (10/14/01 - 1/6/02); "Master Drawings from The Cleveland Museum of Art", exh. cat. no. 67, pp.166-167; p.293.
Boston Museum of Fine Arts (10/26/2003 - 1/18/2004). Art Institute of Chicago (2/14/2004 - 5/9/2004): "Rembrandt's Journey: Painter, Draftsman, Etcher", exh. cat. no. 133, p. 202.
CMA, "Treasures on Paper from the Collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art" (Mar. 9, 2014-Jun. 8, 2014)