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  Buon Fresco (also kown as True Fresco) is an ancient painting method, with its beginnings in Egyptian, Greek, and Roman times. Not reaching its full development and expression until the Renaissance, Buon Fresco is painting on the medium of wet plaster with pure pigments. The pigment becomes locked under the calcium carbonate skin of the plaster as it cures, creating an extraordinarily long-lasting and beautiful painting.

Frescos abound in Italy, with most Churches and many old Villas having displaying examples in various states of repair. Through living in Italy and in her association with the school of Fresco in Figline di Prato, Kimberly has access to and knowledge of rarely seen frescos that are not in the tour guidebooks. The most famous cycle of frescos is probably the Sistine Chapel, by Michelangelo, in Rome. There are many other famous frescos throughout Italy and especially Tuscany, that both the Workshop and the Tour will visit including many important works by Cimabue, Giotto, Fra. Angelico, Gozzoli, Pontormo, Vasari, and others.

The traditional way to study any of the classic art forms is to reproduce or copy the old masters. Compare the original Fresco, Allegory and Her Sisters, painted by Allori in the 1570's, to the two modern "studies" below. The first "study" is a verdaccio under-painting. This mixture of green earthen pigment is painted on the top most layer of plaster or the intonaco. It is used as an under-painting to help define tone and shadow within the fresco. The second "study" is a detail of the face of Allegory. One of the complexities of Buon Fresco is in learning to interpret and understand the timing of the plaster, as the time to paint is quite limited while it dries. Large frescos must be executed over a period of days or even weeks, with each day's work called a giornata. Other lesser-known fresco methods include Finto Fresco and Graffito. Finto Fresco (or False Fresco) is painted on a dry intonaco and is not considered to be Buon Fresco at all. It was a technique often used in the painting of Grottesca frescos, such as those on the ceilings of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Graffito is another Buon Fresco technique. Buon Fresco technique, it utilizes multiple layers of tinted intonaco, as illustrated in the "study" on the terra cotta tile of the decorative lion.

If you are interested in creating frescos of your own, take a look at our Workshop page.

Allegory and her Sisters by Allori
Study in Verdaccio and Buon Fresco


Uffizi Gallery Corridor with Grottesca
A detail for the Uffizi Gallery Corridor


Piazza dei Cavalieri in Pisa
Graffito Study on Terra Cotta Tile


Gozzoli's Medeci Chapel in Florence
Five Giornate Study of Gozzoli's Procession


Gabbiani's Neptune at the Arno
Study of Gabbiani's Neptune at the Arno



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