The fresco techniques in the history

The fresco techniques in the history


From frescos recovered in Pompei it could be verified that Romans used to draw on the “arriccio” (sinopia) and then  cover it with the “intonachino” for days.

It has been verified others techniques which have been recovered in the Middle Ages, like the “battitura dei fili” or sometimes the direct drawing carried out with paintbrush or with a barbed tip directly on the plaster.

The mural paintings in the Dark Ages were usually done “a fresco” but with extensive dry-stone finishes, done on the wall already dry with colours diluted in the lime milk.

The artists, in fact, stretched out big “campiture di fondo” with the mortar still wet and then they finished them off in a dry-stone way.

In the Paleochristian, Byzantine and Romanesque ages, like in the Roman one, the frescos were made by large horizontal stripes, more or less like human height, which followed the “bridges” (scaffolds) trend, starting from the top, so it is said that the frescos were made by “pontate” instead of “giornate”.

The speed required from this method of work was possible because of the technique of execution implementation (generally rather summary), the simplicity of draw and the employment of fix iconographical forms, especially from “maestranze” Byzantine.

In the Romanic and Byzantine painting the preparatory draw were done directly on the plaster, and so often shine through.

Between the end of 1200 and 1300 there were two important technical innovations, tightly linked between them: the use of the preparatory draw made on the “arriccio”, said “sinopia”, and the drafting of the plaster “per giornate” covering with the plaster that part of sinopia that the painter thought to paint in a day, with the mortar still wet.

The painter reproduces that part of draw covered by mortar on the plaster with the “verdaccio”.

In the 1400 century instead of sinopia was used the cardboard, the artist sketched out of composition on a small scale, that was carried on a final scale in a batch of big sheets of paper, that glued together, formed the “cardboard”. Then the borders of the figures were pitted and therefore, the cardboard was fixed on the wall. Then the cardboard were thumbed with a bag full of coal powder, so that the black powder could leave the surrounds of the draw on thearriccio”.

Other than the technique called “spolvero”, the draw could be carried from the cardboard to the wall pushing the surround with a metal tip of the figures which remained printed on fresh mortar.

An another innovation was the “quadrettatura” that made easier the transcription from the little draw to the cardboard and the wall.

This type of transcription was famous in 1500 and especially in 1600 and in 1700.

In 1800 it was common more than ever the painting “ a secco”, but it was still used also the “a fresco” one.

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