Bonifacio Veronese, Sacra Conversazione with Tobias and the Angel

Circa 1540-43
Oil on canvas
Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, South Carolina. Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.

The figure on the far left is St. Jerome (red cardinal's hat, stone in left hand). The museum's label says the figure behind him is St. Joseph, but his staff has a tau top and no flowers so he is more likely St. Anthony Abbot On the far right St. Peter (holding his keys to the kingdom) communicates the gospel message to his follower St. Mark (lion at lower right). The two pairings may be related to the common topic of the Active Life and the Contemplative Life, the apostle and evangelist representing the former and the two hermits the latter.

In the center, the Angel Raphael presents Tobias (with the fish, whose belly has been slit) to the Christ Child. The vessel in the boy's left hand could be for the fish's organs, whose medicinal properties resolved both his father's blindness and Sarah's wedding-night problems. (See the page for the Archangel Raphael.)

Left of center, St. Catherine of Alexandria (broken wheel at her knees) receives the crown of martyrdom from the Virgin Mary. In the background, the snowy winter in the mountains provides an eloquent contrast with the rose bush blooming behind the Virgin.

View this image in full resolution.
Read more about portraits of Mary.
Read more about images of St. Jerome, St. Anthony Abbot, Raphael and Tobias, St. Catherine of Alexandria, St. Peter, and St. Mark.

Photographed at the museum by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.