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 the meeting house they established in 1658. In the 19th century the building was secularized and then sold to the community of German Lutherans, who have decided to keep the painting and the Guardian Angel statue above the building's entrance:
Hammond (85) considers this a painting of Raphael and Tobias, 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.
The alternative to the boy's rescue is represented by the naked figures in the lower right. These are souls in Purgatory. As in other images of that realm, they raise their hands and faces upward while an angel points the way to their eventual abode in Heaven.
View the painting in full resolution.
View the statue above the entrance in full resolution.
Read more about Guardian Angels.
Read more about images involving Purgatory.
Photographed at the church by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.