Sebastiano Ricci
A Guardian Angel Brings a Soul into Heaven

German Evangelical Church, Venice, Italy

This painting was commissioned by the Confraternity (Scuola) of the Guardian Angels for the chapel in their headquarters building. The confraternity was suppressed at the beginning of the 19th century, and the building was sold in 1813 to the community of German Lutherans. They have decided to keep this painting as well as Heinrich Meyring's Guardian Angel statue above the building's entrance:

When I visited the church, the volunteer guide referred to the boy and angel as Tobias and Raphael, but there are reasons to see it as a guardian angel taking a soul into Heaven. First there is the name of the confraternity. Secondly, the angel has no attributes suggestive of St. Raphael. Thirdly, just across the square in the Church of the Holy Apostles is a bronze memorial sculpture in which the man being memorialized lies on his deathbed while his guardian angel takes his soul into Heaven; the soul is pictured as a small boy just like the one in this painting. Finally, the artist has included in the lower left of the painting an image of souls in Purgatory (or possibly Hell).

View the painting in full resolution.
View the statue above the entrance in full resolution.

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