Fresco-secco is a painting technique that is closely related to true fresco (buon fresco), but with some key differences in its execution. While true fresco involves applying pigments onto freshly laid wet plaster, fresco-secco refers to the application of pigments onto dry plaster.

Here are some key aspects of fresco-secco painting:

  1. Dry Plaster: Unlike in true fresco, where pigments are applied onto wet plaster, fresco-secco painting is done on dry plaster. This allows for greater flexibility in terms of working time and detail, as the artist can take their time to apply the pigments without the pressure of the plaster drying quickly.
  2. Binding Agents: In fresco-secco, the pigments are typically mixed with a binding agent, such as egg tempera, glue, or oil, to help them adhere to the dry plaster surface. This allows for a wider range of pigments and colors to be used compared to true fresco, where the chemical reaction with the wet plaster limits the palette.
  3. Durability: While true fresco is known for its durability and long-lasting qualities due to the chemical bond formed between the pigments and the plaster, fresco-secco is generally less durable. The pigments in fresco-secco are not chemically bonded to the plaster and may be more susceptible to flaking, fading, or other forms of deterioration over time.
  4. Techniques and Effects: Fresco-secco allows for a variety of painting techniques and effects, including fine details, glazes, and layering of colors. Artists can achieve a wide range of textures and visual effects by manipulating the dry plaster surface and the pigments mixed with binding agents.

Fresco-secco has been used throughout history in conjunction with true fresco or as a standalone technique for mural painting, decorative arts, and panel paintings. While it offers certain advantages in terms of flexibility and detail, artists must also consider its limitations in terms of durability and long-term stability compared to true fresco.

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