When the ability of a sculptor and his skillset able to turn a rigid matte material such as marble into something light, it is evident that the mastery of such an artist must have reached a high level.
Above: picture by David Sivyer shared via Wikipedia – licence Creative Commons 3.0
Something suchlike happened for instance to Giuseppe Sanmartino and his Veiled Christ. The sudarium which covers Jesus does not hide the martyrized body but instead seems to softly drape on top of it, “which does not cover it with the spasm but soothe it”(Matilde Serao).
The face of the Veiled Christ
Above: picture by Davis Sivyer via Wikimedia Commons – licence CC BY-SA 2.0
According to some, that realistic veil could not be conveyed by a sculptor but instead being the result of a real piece of fabric gone through a marbling process. Raimondo di Sangro (1710-1771), buyer of the piece as well as prince of Sansevero did have such alchemic competences. The location where the statue was destined to was the Mausoleum of the family, the Sansevero’s Chapel.
It was Raimondo, know across Naples as “the Prince” who transformed the Chapel in a place, symbol of the greatness of the family as well as of his multiple interests and his belonging to the Freemasonry.
Raimondo di Sangro
Still, Raimondo commissioned another extraordinary artwork, the Release from Deception
Release from Deception
Above: picture by 3cc3h0m0bianco_senza_pressione shared via Flickr – licence CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
In this statue the artist Francesco Queirolo sculpted a dense net in the marble which engulfed the body of a man with an incredible cure for the details of the knots.
The Release from Deception is the allegoric representation of the possibility for any human being to free themselves from sin (symbolised by the net) thanks to the intellect (represented by a putto). The mundane temptations take the shape of a terrestrial globe, while the Bible is indicated as the means through which finding the light of virtue. It is not random that at the feet of the man there is an inscription with a passage of the Gospel of Jesus giving the sight back to the blind.
Incision on the sculpture
The statue was dedicated from Raimondo to his father Antonio, whom after a libertine life had found the route of virtues. There is no judgement in the opinion of the Prince, only the awareness of the “human fragility, that cannot discover the virtue without the sin”.
Release from Deception – Detail
Above: picture by David Sivyer shared via Flickr – licence CC BY-SA 2.0
The symbolism of the artwork is dense of Masonic elements. For example the contrast between obscurity/light where the “great light” is here represented by the open book. What strikes of such a piece is the cure with which the rope has been sculpted. It seems it took 7 years to be achieved by Queirolo, whom did not have any helpers to assist him.
According to the Art historian Giuseppe Origlia, peer of the sculptor, Release from Deception and in particular the rope represent “..the last hard proof which marble sculpture can handle”.