|Fresco & wall painting side by side|
Technically a fresco or "buon fresco" [real fresco] is a painting which has been done on wet [ie fresh] plaster. The artist draws directly on the wet wall and the colours used are absorbed and become one with the plaster through a chemical reaction [calcium carbonate is formed as a result of carbon dioxide from the air combining with the calcium hydrate in the wet plaster]. Pigments used to paint are traditionally created from earth oxides or minerals.
Wall paintings are painted onto a dry plaster medium and are, therefore, generally held to be less intense and less brilliant in their colours. To create a wall painting the artist would traditionally mix the pigments with either egg white, egg yolk or an adheisive like gum arabic. This would allow the pigment to bond with the dry plaster. This technique was also used to correct or add additional details to a "buon fresco".
The chapel of St Georges-sur-Loire [Rochecorbon] has examples of each side by side.On the north wall is a 12th century fresco next to a 13th century wall painting. They are indeed very different. The 12th century fresco is more intense in its colours, even if the range is much more restricted than in the 13th century wall painting. In the wall painting the presentation of the figures is more sophisticated, the draping of the clothes is more fluid and the use of persective has advanced--not suprising as there is a century of artistic evolution between them.
|12th century fresco|
The fresco shows Christ bathing the feet of the Apostles. The Apostle is leaning his head on his hand with his elbow being supported on his knee. He looks as if he's suspended in mid air over the basin in which Jesus is bathing his feet. The motief of the floor is a variant of the quatrefoil pattern which was very common in mediaeval floor tiles.
|13th century wall painting|
The wall painting shows the Last Supper. Each Apostle is sat behind the table and has a fish in a dish [apologies for the rhyme!] in front of him. The tablecloth is pleated and the robes are draped. The figures are altogether more realistic than in the fresco of a century earlier and the range of colours used is greater. However, they are softer in tone than those of the 12th century fresco, making them less intense. Behind the Apostles on the arcading is a cityscape which represents Jerusalem.
|Angels to the right,|
On the south wall are further remains of another 13th century wall painting of the Last Judgement, much of which has now gone with the exception of the angels who are still clearly visible busily sounding their trumpets.
|Angels to the left|
For such a small chapel, St Georges-sur-Loire certainly offers a range of treasures: lovely stained glass, Merovingian remnants and interesting murals.
Mural is the catch-all term for any kind of art on a wall from pre-historic cave drawings to contemporary graffiti art. Use the word mural and you'll always be right and never have to worry whether it is a fresco or wall painting again!