Cambridge Encyclopedia » Cambridge Encyclopedia Vol. 27

fresco - Technique, Frescoes in history, Selected examples of Italian frescoes

plaster artist intonaco laid

An ancient technique for painting on walls, perfected in the 14th–16th-c in Italy; it is difficult, and is nowadays uncommon. The wall is prepared with layers of plaster, sometimes as many as four, the penultimate (arricciato) being marked out with the artist's design (underdrawing or sinopia). The final layer of lime-plaster (intonaco) is then laid and, while it is still wet (fresco means ‘fresh’ in Italian), the artist works on this with a water-based paint. Just enough intonaco is laid for one day's work (giornata). The colours bond into the plaster by chemical action and are therefore very permanent, but they dry lighter, a factor the artist must bear in mind.

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