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The painting comes from the church of Santa Caterina in Venice and was attested (by Boschini in 1664) as being on an altar dedicated to the Archangel Raphael on the right-hand side of the church. The presence of the Bembo family coat of arms would suggest that the painting was commissioned by a membeer of the family of the humanist and literary figure Pietro Bembo, even though so far there has emerged no significant proof for this hypothesis, except for a mention, much later on, by two nuns of the Bembo family during meetings held at the convent.

The iconography, which recurs relatively frequently throughout the Quattrocento, especially in Florence though more rarely also in Venice, is often traced back to merchant family clients who, on the occasion of their younger members’ maiden business trip, invoked the protection of the Archangel Raphael, associated with the role of guide according to the Book of Tobias.

The painting is generally placed by scholars among the artist’s youthful productions, dated to somewhere between the end of the first decade of the sixteenth century, around the time of the frescoes for the Fondaco dei Tedeschi, and the early 1610s.