Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The making of frescoes

Frescoes are made when paint is placed on wet plaster. I watched a documentary a few nights ago where this painted wall panel in a church was demonstrated to be painted in 28 days. X-ray of the panel showed 28 patches of plaster, presumably each patch is a day's work. When the plaster is dried, paint will not penetrate it so the painter only apply enough wet plaster that he can work on in a day. He continues the next day until the whole panel is painted. It is a very laborious task. This is only for one panel. What happened in all the cave churches in Cappadocia? How many fresco painters work in any church at any given time? It is customary for every area in a Byzantine church to be covered with frescoes. Again there are more questions than answers. The frescoes in Cappadocia dates between the 9th and 11th century. A lot are in the most dire state, plaster is fast peeling off and some of the paintings are hardly visible. Mosaics are made in the same way, little colored glass pieces are glued onto the fresco painting. This is very expensive and are therefore found in churches in richer areas, places where there are rich patrons who can afford to pay for it. No mosaics are found in Cappadocia, this is a peasant area, very provincial.

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