Inside Sansevero Chapel Museum in Naples, there’s this one particular sculpture with a very striking feature that captures every one attention—the 18th-century sculpture with a marble net that looks so realistic.
Many visitors are amazed to discover that every piece of this incredible sculpture is carved out of a single block marble, including the carefully crafted knots in the draping net wrapped around the large figure of a fisherman.
Only one question keeps on boggling everyone. How did the sculptor carve a delicate net from a single solid marble?
Il Disinganno, also called The Release from Deception, was crafted by Genoese artist Francesco Queirolo in the 18th century.
Widely considered as Francesco’s pièce de résistance, this sculpture has solidified Queirolo’s legacy as one of Italy’s leading 18th-century artists.
The Release from Deception
The Release from Deception depicts a scene that’s both biblical and allegorical, and it features two subjects: an angel and a fisherman.
The angelic figure stands on a globe as he untangles the fisherman from a net and floats above exquisite drapery.
The Sculpture’s Biblical Meaning
According to the museum, the netting symbolizes worldly sins. Because of this, the man has become a captive of the sins as further solidified by the globe.
An angel stands above the globe to free the man from the sins and wrongdoings. The Bible beside the man’s feet, symbolizes enlightenment.
Moreover, there’s a book with a Latin passage that reads:
“I will break thy chain, the chain of the darkness and long night of which thou art a slave so that thou might not be condemned with this world.”
The sculpture also incorporates secular symbols. For instance, the flame on the angel’s head represents human intellect, while the globe signifies worldly passions.
These elements coincide with Raimondo’s dedication to his father, which explores the idea of “human fragility, which cannot know great virtues without vice.”
Some people also believe that the sculpture symbolizes aspects of freemasonry – which is a secret fraternal organization founded in 1717.
According to the reference, the Bible is said to represent one of the trio ‘great lights’ of the secret organization. The passage on the open book denotes a Masonic ritual of initiation where new members would enter the ‘lodge’ with a blindfold.
After the initiation, “the blindfold is removed to deliver the member to the light. Hence, breaking the chain of darkness through enlightenment and truth.”
The Marble Net
Whether the sculpture denotes Masonic undertones or biblical symbolism, people don’t seem to mind so much about the real meaning behind it.
One glance at it, visitors seemed to have their eyes fixed on the marble net. From a distance, you may think the net is made of actual ropes. But on closer look, you’ll see it was actually carved from a single marble block.
It’s believed that it took Queirolo seven years to complete the marble net alone. And he achieved it without the assistance of an apprentice or any machinery.
The Sansevero Chapel
Built by John Francesco di Sangro in the late 16th century, the Sansevero Chapel was initially a family burial site in 1613.
To memorialize those laid to rest on the chapel, living family members would commission contemporary sculptors to design tributes to the dead.
The Release from Deception was created to honor Raimondo’s father: Antonio di Sangro, the Duke of Torremaggiore.
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