History of frescoes

The name fresco comes from the Italian "a fresco" (fresh). The technique of painting frescos was known already in antique eras, later used in Greece and especially in Italy, but also in China and India.

Painting frescoes is a technically hard job. The color (mineral pigments mixed with lime water) is applied to an even damp plaster so that the pigments sink into the substrate and dry together with the plaster. This means that the painter has to work quickly so that the plaster does not dry out, since after the drying, only minor repairs can be made. Fresco does not fit in wet environment (for example, there is only one fresco in St. Peter's Basilica). On a basic rough plaster (arriccio - lime with sand), auxiliary lines were applied with damp chalk dust. Then the artist made the preparatory drawing in red-brown color, called "Sinopia" (according to the pigment from Synopia in Montenegro). Then the image design was divided into sections that could be processed in one day, "giornata", their size depended on the nature of the image - if the image was detailed, the giornata was of course smaller. These day sections were then completed with a second layer of fine plaster (intonaco) for everyday processing.

The frescoes are divided into three main types:

"Buon fresco" (fresco on fresh plaster)

- plaster is completely fresh, it is the most difficult technique of frescoes. It is very durable, in case of errors a large part of the plaster must be removed. Once the fracture has dried, smudge can appear, because the plaster is not evenly damp when painting. Most were used until the end of the Renaissance.

"Mezzo fresco" (fresco on medium fresh plaster)

- pigments are absorbed into the plaster with lime water. The old recipe says: the plaster should be dried just enough so that fingerprints are not visible on it. This technique was painted by Michelangelo, Raffaelo, etc.

"Fresco-secco" (fresco on dry plaster)

- pigments are bonded with a dry plaster with binder (egg, oil). Plaster for this technique is used to be coarser, more granular. It is less durable than other techniques, but offers a number of positive features: pigments that can not be applied to the fresh plaster can be used, corrections are made easier and the painting can be painted in more detail. This technique was used by Giotto, Da Vinci and others.

Source: Wikipedia


As a basis of my frescoes I use a dry lime plaster,on which after wetting with water I apply pigments mixed in lime water. The pigments are absorbed into the plaster, where they bind to the lime contained in the plaster. My technique is between the mezzo-fresco and secco techniques.