Art Term

Fresco

Fresco is a mural painting technique that involves painting with water-based paint directly onto wet plaster so that the paint becomes an integral part of the plaster

Sir Edward Poynter, ‘Paul and Apollos’ 1872
Sir Edward Poynter
Paul and Apollos 1872
Tate

Developed in Italy from about the thirteenth century and fresco was perfected during the Renaissance.

Two coats of plaster are applied to a wall and allowed to dry. On the second the design is drawn in outline. To make the painting, an area of the wall corresponding to a day’s work is freshly plastered and the design retraced joining up with the uncovered parts. This area is then painted on while still wet, using water-based paint. The paint is absorbed into the wet plaster thus making it a durable mural technique. Some touching up can be done when the plaster is dry but a whole fresco painted on dry plaster is liable to flake off.

Related terms and concepts

Glossary of art terms: Mural

A mural is a painting applied directly to a wall usually in a public space 

Art Term

Renaissance

French word meaning rebirth, now used in English to describe the great revival of art that took place in Italy ...