Roundel with Tobit sleeping
Few objects encompass the charm and technical virtuosity of late gothic Netherlandish art as well as the present roundel. In a single view three scenes from the story of Tobit are represented, with in the foreground a monumental sleeping Tobit, dressed in the luxury fabrics that were fashionable at the end of the fifteenth century and were draped with an extraordinary sense of light and shade. Lighter hues of paint and increased incised lines draw our eyes to the city of Nineveh in the background in front of which two earlier scenes play out: above Tobias informs Tobit of the murder of an Israelite in the streets of Nineveh and further towards us Tobit ceremonially buries the victim. Not only is the beauty of this window archetypical of early Netherlandish art, the roundel’s genesis is also uniquely documented by a drawing kept in the Kupferstich-Kabinett in Dresden. The maker of this drawing was in the immediate ambit of Hugo van der Goes and is sometimes identified as the Master of the Life of Tobit. The present window was published in Berserik and Caen, Silver-stained roundels and unipartite panels before the French Revolution. Flanders. Vol. 2, pp. 179-181.