There is little doubt that artists who worked with marble during the 18th century were true geniuses. However, one Italian sculptor stands out among the rest. When the Prince of Sansavero ordered the creation of a challenging piece from a single slab of marble, most artists declined due to its complexity. However, one man took on the challenge and completed the masterpiece in just seven years.
Francesco Queirolo was a sculptor from Genoa who was active in Rome and Naples during the Rococo period. The Italian artist created several amazing works. However, he is best known for the masterpiece he made for Raimondo di Sangro, Prince of Sansevero. The prince asked Queirolo to work on a monument to Raimondo’s father. The artist obliged and created the famed Il Disinganno of Cappella Sansevero.
Queirolo worked on the masterpiece for seven years.
Even the net is made of marble.
The artist was the only one brave enough to take the Prince’s challenge.
Il Disinganno (“Release From Deception”) is a true masterpiece. It depicts a fisherman being released from a net by an angel yet it is steeped in symbolism.
“A little-winged spirit, with a small flame on his forehead, a symbol of human intellect, helps the man to free himself from the intricate netting while pointing to the globe at his feet, symbol of worldly passions. An open book rests on the globe; it is the Bible, a sacred text, but also one of the three ‘great lights’ of Masonry. The bas-relief on the pedestal, with the story of Jesus restoring sight to the blind, accompanies and strengthens the meaning of the allegory.”
Amazingly, Queirolo worked on the sculpture from 1752 to 1759 and had to do everything by himself.
The masterpiece continues to astound people who visit the Cappella Sansevero.
It is said that Queirolo had to burnish the sculpture in pumice on his own. The craftsmen who specialized in the burnishing phase reportedly refused to touch the artwork out of fear of destroying the delicate net.
Everything about the sculpture is made completely out of marble. This includes the net that covers the fisherman to the pages of the Bible at his feet. This is why people continue to marvel at the Italian masterpiece that can be found in Cappella Sansevero to this day.
What do you think of Queirolo’s impressive masterpiece? Would you be interested in seeing Il Disinganno in real life? Let us know in the comments below.
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