The art of fresco in Italy is as old as time. And it brings a sense of peace in this chaotic world.
The earliest recorded frescos date back 30,000 years ago in France. The art of fresco has survived many centuries. Until fresco in Italy became relevant in the Renaissance. Take for example the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo. Who doesn’t know it, right?
Example of Fresco in Italy
The frescoes of the Brancacci Chapel in the church Santa Maria del Carmine in Florence date back to 1424. More Italian artists joined the wagon, like Donatello, Mantegna, Bellini, and Pisanello. And, of course, the greatest of all: Giotto.
Gorgeous fresco are also in the city of Parma. Specifically in its Baptistery. Nearby, you can also find frescoes by Correggio. The Oratorio de San Giuseppe is home to fourteenth century frescoes portraying the “Crucifixion” and “The Life of St. John the Baptist.”
In Florence, the Santa Croce features frescoes by Taddeo Gaddi, Angelo Gaddi, Giotto, and other artists. Always in Tuscany, the Cappella dei Magi hides art the three-panel fresco cycle by Benozzo Gozzoli. Frescoes are also big in Pompeii. For example, in the Villa dei Misteri. Or, even more famously, the erotic frescoes in the city stuck in time.
There are many other fine examples of fresco in Italy.
The art of frescoes
The fresco’s popularity declined after the Renaissance due to its issues with humidity. Until artists picked it up again in the 20th century. Especially thanks to the restoration of the Sistine Chapel in the 1980s.
Fresco is more than a painting technique. It is an exercise in patience, diligence, and skill. Unlike oil painting, a fresco encompasses many steps. From preparing the mortar to laying down the rough coat. Then covering it with a painting coat and smoothing the painting coat. Furthermore, artists have to prepare the pigments, transfer the design, and plan every step ahead of time.
In fresco art,there is no room for mistake.
The colors used in fresco are subdued and gentle because they are imbedded in the plaster. Hence, frescoes can last for generations. Like fingerprints, no two frescoes, no matter how similar, can ever be alike.
Each one has its own individual personality, texture, and feel. Each one is alive with passion of the artist that created it. For example take the veduta con giardino by Sergio Bonometti : pictures can not show the inherent beauty in this fresco. In this photo this fresco looks suspiciously like an oil painting. You can see the light below clouds, the delicate greenery, the willowy branches and winding vines, the fragrant blossoms, and strong majestic columns.
Fresco artists practice their technique for years before their work fully blooms. Considering the hours of preparation and painting, it is a wonder that any artist would choose this method as a means of expression. Fresco is indeed a labor of love.
But, what you can’t see is how these elements interact with the texture of the plaster. You can’t see how the colors blend from stroke to stroke, or how the natural peaks and flats of the plaster create a play of light and shadow. These things can only be experienced in person.
Written by: Jamie Sue Austin