c. 1750: Agostino Fasolato and The Fall of the Rebel Angels

KorbenDallas

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Some people do not "deserve" their own Wikipedia page, and some Works of Art are better to be left unnoticed. One of these people is Agostino Fasolato, and one of these Works of Art is "The Fall of the Rebel Angels". The lack of info on the guy and his statue could have a plausible explanation, but as you know, I am not a big supporter of those. At some point, the critical mass of plausible explanations starts to outweigh the allotted amount of common sense.

Agostino Fasolato
Did this artist even exist? There is some circumstantial evidence that he did. My web search did not produce much. Apparently, we could have two artists with the same name. According to the Italian Wikipage:
  • The Fasolos were a family of sculptors active in Padua between the 17th and 18th centuries. The surname often appears in the writings related to the local stone-cutting brotherhood, but the relationships between the different members are not always clear.
  • Two sculptors with this name, active in the same years, are recorded in the Fraglia padovana of the stonecutters and, following the biography of Napoleone Pietrucci, the author of the sculpture should be identified with the Agostino son of Vincenzo and Orazia Piesti, born in Padua on 27 June 1714 and still alive in 1787. There is no certainty of the identity of this artist with the Augustine which other documents assign carving works for the churches of the Paduan territory: in 1752 for the choir of the Basilica del Santo, in 1755 and in 1760-61 for the altars of the Cathedral of Montagnana.
It appears that the bio info for Agostino(s) Fasolato simply does not exist. I turned to Google Ngram to see what this wonderful tool had to offer. It substantiated the name, and the sculpture. It also provided some information on how long it took Agostino Fasolato to complete the statue. What Google Ngram did not help out with, would be the sources of the available information.

Essentially, we do have enough confirmations of the below statue existing in the first half of the 19th century. Some people either did not know how to count, or we had two various statues at some point. I have hard time understanding how 60 could be counted as 66. Anyways, here is the statue itself.

The Fall of the Rebel Angels
The Fall of the Rebel Angels by Agostino Fasolato is a sculpture from the eighteenth-century. It consists of a pyramid of sixty human figures obtained from a unique marble block of Carrara. On the top there is the Archangel Gabriel that, according to the religious tradition, was one of the advocate of the expulsion of the rebel angels from paradise and their fall down to hell.
  • Location: Palazzo Leoni Montanari in Vicenza
  • Material: A single slab of Carrara marble
  • Size: 168 x 80 x 81 cm = 5.51 x 2.62 x 2.65 ft
  • The statue is an intricate composition of bodies that seems to recreate the shape of the infernal flames. The fallen angels are, indeed, shown in the moment of their permutation into demons. This sophisticated opera shows a great technical virtuosity of the author. It’s interesting especially because it’s extremely different and original compared to the other sculptures of the same period.
  • The oldest indication of the work is owed to Giovan Battista Rossetti who, in his Description of the paintings, sculptures, and architecture of Padua in 1765, pointed it out among the major attractions of the city: the visitor did not have to fail to admire the fall of the rebel angels of "Agostin Fasolato Scultor Padovano ... work to say the least wonderful, not tempted or even from ancient Greece".
  • The group "extracted from a piece of Carrara marble of sixty pyramid figures" was conserved at the time in the palace of the Counts Trento, located in one of the reception rooms frescoed by a disciple and collaborator of Giambattista Tiepolo, Francesco Zugno. According to sources, the marble was commissioned by Count Marc'Antonio Trento (1704-1785), bailiffs of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta as well as a member of various Paduan academies.
  • 3D scanning Artwork: “The Fall of the Rebel Angels”
  • The fall of the rebel angels of Agostino Fasolato
Agostino-Fasolato-La-Caduta-degli-Angeli-Ribelli-1750-ca-1.jpg

impossible_statue.jpg

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KD: I think we have another example where some unknown ancient technology is being presented as some outstanding skill and/or talent of the artist. I do not believe a statue like the one above could, or can be chisel-hammered.
 

Apollyon

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Some one that’s not me because I have no time needs to look into the cemetery of Staglieno. The artists attributed to the work are said to have lived into the 20th century yet there doesn’t appear to be any video of these masters at work. I would love for someone to prove me wrong. The statues are worn and grey now but when Mark Twain was said to have visited they were bright white. There are even copies of some of the statues in Louisiana. That’s all I got, sorry if it was a bit off topic I don’t know anything about the sculpture in the op first time hearing about it and made me think of this cemetery.
 

EUAFU

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I find it unlikely that any sculptor will be able to do this in one block. Probably a machine has done this, a 3D printer, so this aspect of carving is somewhat melted or inaccurate as is the characteristic of some 3D printers.
 

codis

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A remarkable sculpure, for sure. Very good craftsmanship - however it was done.
What I find strange:
The topic points to a customer obsessed with good/evil duality and the bibical narrative. Who might that be, in Italy ?
And who could pay a good craftsman for 12 years and 4 month, resulting in one sculpure ?
To put it in a hotel lobby, really ???
Something doesn't add up.
 

jd755

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We have no idea what we are really capable of. Technoogy of the day dumbs us down, txt don't talk!
This from 2006 for example ; Nephrite Jade Dragons Garden Sculpture Carving CN0159

CN0159.jpg

Solid green nephrite jade 7 dragons garden sculpture carving is a very wonderful and highly detailed carving.
7 wonderful dragons playing with a pea.
On the rear is a beautiful temple with a koi fish jumping in the waterfall.
Notice the fine detail on the dragons.
This is real Lushan Mountain Jade.
This Jade is very good quality nephrite jade stone.
as you can see by the color, This carving is sealed.
A Sealer has some dark green color stain added to enhance and protect the beauty of the pale green Lushan Jade.
Click the picture to send email
This is carved from 2 large solid jade stones.
cut and fit together for easier handling.

Size: 4+ meters tall.
Width: 2.5 meter
Weight: approx 12 metric tons.​
 

codis

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Solid green nephrite jade 7 dragons garden sculpture carving is a very wonderful and highly detailed carving.
7 wonderful dragons playing with a pea.
On the rear is a beautiful temple with a koi fish jumping in the waterfall.
I would really like to investigate Fasolato's sculpture from up close. Especially the processing and finish of the inner, i.e. obstructed surfaces. Doing some wood carving from time to time, I can tell you this is really difficult to get clean shapes in very confined spaces.
 
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KorbenDallas

KorbenDallas

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We have no idea what we are really capable of.
LOL. Not even talking about craftsmanship here. What does machine carving technology of today has to do with 1750s? Care to show how this 12 ton statue was made?
  • Jade cannot be carved. Because of its hardness, it can rarely be shaped by chiseling or chipping but must be worn away by abrasion with tools and hard sand pastes. This is a process that requires immense patience – even with modern machinery equipped with diamond-tipped burrs that grind out intricate designs, it remains laborious.
  • Jadeite stone is so hard that it can only be shaped by being scraped with sand pastes and tools.
 

jd755

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Oh I see its the skill of the carver or the process that is under question.. You think they had machines to do the carving in the 1700'd or some other process. I'll have to pay more attention to these old writings.
 
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KorbenDallas

KorbenDallas

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It’s the finished product vs. the officially available tools, and recognized techniques which at the time consisted of chisels and hammers. Do I think those were used to produce the OP statue? No, I do not.

As far as skillful people carving marble go, below is one of those. I am not sure how he is not dead yet, but he definitely appears to have some skills. And even with what we can see in the video, they do not show us how the most intricate details were made.
  • Inhaling marble dust causes toxic effects on the respiratory system. Workers and residents living in areas adjacent to stone quarries are prone to a disease called silicosis, whereby inhaled marble dust damages the cells of the respiratory system.
  • Silicosis resulted in 46,000 deaths globally in 2013 down from 55,000 deaths in 1990.
  • Health Risks of Marble Dust
  • Silicosis - Wikipedia
Additionally, the guy is using a mechanical chisel, totally taking chisel knocking technique out of the equation. Comparing a mechanical chisel to a hammer-knock one is ridiculous.


And I have no idea what that crude machine carved (at best), or cast (faux-) jade statue has to do with this thread. Whether it's real nephrite jade or not is hard to say from here. We do have some rather interesting info available on the internet though:
I know the website says that the stuff is real, but who knows for sure? May be ArtFiberglass.COM sells some real stuff...

Need to find me some jade.

 

Silent Bob

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I am starting to change my mind on this topic after talking to my old school friend who is now a master stonemason. I posted this on another thread but I think it is more relevant to this one. It reminds me of that scene from the Tripods when they find an old pair of spectacles which they assume were made by their alien masters. When one of the characters claims that 'men made these' the others laugh and him as every one knows humans aren't skilled enough to make something like that. I realise that this may still be lost technology, wouldn't surprise me at all, but it also wouldn't surprise me if what my friend says is true and we really were skilled enough to do this at one time. It always feels like the current PTB want to limit our perception of what we're truly capable of, just like they do in the Tripods series, undermine our confidence in ourselves and what is possible. It is likely a combination of both, they is clear evidence of 'antique tech' on old buildings but I think we were also a lot more skilled with manual tools as well.

Before I give you his response, here is an article with a time lapse video of him carving a Grotesque (not a Gargoyle, he always corrects me!). Even if you disagree with his response it is good to watch, very impressive sculpting with a good old hammer and chisel.

Watch as stonemason creates intricate grotesques for Beverley Minster

His response on the sculptures in the impossible statues:

'It's difficult to explain my thoughts properly in an email but I think the short answer is "yes" all of this is possible with hand tools. Art historians are theorists not crafts people and an art degree doesn't teach any craft techniques or even give a rudimentary understanding. The narrator should have spoken to actual craftspeople. I know of at least half a dozen stone carvers (including myself) that could probably replicate the marble netting to a reasonable standard in good quality soft Florentine marble (such as that used back then) & more importantly given enough time with no power tools! what it boils down to is time, it takes years to learn the skills & specialist techniques involved. The Romans had tricks that were lost for centuries because their academics didn't think they were important enough to write down. the entire renaissance was spent trying to re-discover what had been forgotten because it had previously been passed down from master to apprentice & hardly ever written down. The machine age has almost destroyed craft entirely but I assure you there are ways to replicate all on this video with specialist hand tools, techniques, talent, training & money/time. the netting was probably roughly shaped with a fine chisel leaving a web of marble in the "holes" then painstakingly filed away with a tool called a riffler. To me it's almost disrespectful to the sculptor to infer he had some lost machine/technology, even the ancient greeks had hand drills & sand & water as abrasives & rifflers. Nobody is quite sure how old spectacles & magnifying glasses are but there is plenty of evidence to suggest that they have been around as long as glass the rest is patience & skill, something greatly undervalued therefore not seen much in our modern world. Hope this helps explain & hope it doesn't come across as too snotty lol'
 

Plissken

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Say this was done with a hammer and chisel. How did the sculptor get his hand, the chisel, and the hammer in the center of this to do his work. There are many areas where he could not get a good hammer swing to chip marble. The sculptor has to apply the chisel at an exact point and swing the hammer with just the right amount of power. How did he do that here?

1573264143789.png

They did use other tools but again, this seems impossible from one block of marble with the technology of the times.


Plissken 🐍
 

Timeshifter

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Say this was done with a hammer and chisel. How did the sculptor get his hand, the chisel, and the hammer in the center of this to do his work. There are many areas where he could not get a good hammer swing to chip marble. The sculptor has to apply the chisel at an exact point and swing the hammer with just the right amount of power. How did he do that here?


They did use other tools but again, this seems impossible from one block of marble with the technology of the times.


Plissken 🐍
Maybe stone carvers/ sculptors had their own process similar to Da Vinci's Sfumato brushes technique 😃😂 discussed Here

Sarcasm 😁
 

jd755

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In for a penny.
The marble is easy to carve according to this site ; The Durability of Carrara Marble
The quarries of Carrara yield several grades of marble that are ranked by builders. Grade A is pure, subtly veined marble with few geological flaws. It's easy to work with as it doesn't present as many fissures as other grades. But its lack of flaws also makes it less visually interesting than grades B, C and D, which show pitting, dry veins, fissures and other flaws, but have the most pronounced and varied colors..

These are hand carved with hand held chisel, Ivory puzzle balls. no hammer strokes for sure but seemingly just as impossible as the op carving, to me always to me.
Hand Carved Ivory Puzzle Ball w/ Elephant Stand - Jun 23, 2013 | MG Neely Auction in FL on LiveAuctioneers
Cannot save a big image from that site so here's another ball.

Select-3-Jpeg.jpg
 
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KorbenDallas

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Ivory? What does ivory have to do with marble? At this rate we’re gonna be drawing parallels with wood, and soap carving.


Additionally, as far as I understand, at least since 1888, air chisels were available.

As far as the gentleman’s above letter goes, though the linked video is indeed impressive. Saying that he can recreate the below out of a single chunk of marble... well he said that he can do the netting. The rest has to be easy according to the above post.

What do we know about the statue?
  • Release from Deception (Il Disinganno), produced in 1752-1759, shows a fisherman being released from a net by an angel.
  • The masterpiece was carved from a single piece of marble and can be seen in Cappella Sansevero, Naples.
  • The ambitious project was considered by some to be impossible to complete, and only Francesco agreed to attempt it.
I can only wish luck to the sculptor from the letter. Even Queitolo’s contemporaries, who were supposed to know the “now forgotten” due to not being written down techniques, thought that it was impossible.

B2C163B8-0439-4BC5-9087-E89CC852A596.jpeg

And as far as forgetting how to hit a chisel with a hammer. It’s interesting how we forgot how to apply paint like da Vinci, forgot how to chisel like them sculptors of the past, forgot how to move 1,200 ton stone blocks, and whatever else we forgot, because we did not write stuff down.

And this is just my opinion, but the only way such forgetfulness could take place, if we “forgot” the technology used to create these masterpieces.
Bernini liked to boast that in his hands marble could become as impressionable as wax and as soft as dough." Bernini's marble does indeed seem to mutate into other substances: fibrous rope; brilliant steel; locks of hair.
May be they were a bit smarter than we think:
 

wild heretic

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One obvious possibility is liquid plaster-like rock that we know they had hundreds of years ago to veneer the brick columns to look like marble.

Maybe they made the design in a mold first and poured liquid rock into the mold to set?

Carving the mold itself would still be very impressive I think.
 

codis

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One obvious possibility is liquid plaster-like rock that we know they had hundreds of years ago to veneer the brick columns to look like marble.

Maybe they made the design in a mold first and poured liquid rock into the mold to set?
I don't see how this would make the task easier. Still, the obstructed parts are difficult to access and handle.
Perhaps modelling the elements with a Play-Doh like material, and/ or using something like the "lost mold" method. Don't know a proper English term, but I mean a casting method that uses an easily liquifiable material, like wax.
 
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KorbenDallas

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Just to re-enforce the point here. Hollow.
  • The metopes of the Parthenon are the surviving set of what were originally 92 square carved plaques of Pentelic marble originally located above the columns of the Parthenon peristyle on the Acropolis of Athens. If they were made by several artists, the master builder was certainly Phidias. They were carved between 447 or 446 BC. or at the latest 438 BC, with 442 BC as the probable date of completion. Most of them are very damaged. Typically, they represent two characters per metope either in action or repose.
  • Metopes of the Parthenon - Wikipedia
South metope XXXI.jpg

1024px-South_metope_27_Parthenon_BM.jpg
 

codis

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Which is clear proof the statue was not chiseled out of a whole block.
Just to state the obvious. One might wonder why such revealing statues are not on public display ...
 
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