Frescoes space the source of few of the many striking imagery handed under to us from the Minoan human being of Bronze period Crete (2000-1500 BCE). Further, without created records, lock are regularly the only source, along with decorated pottery, that just exactly how the world appeared to the Minoans and give us tantalizing glimpses of their beliefs, social practices and aesthetic tastes.


Techniques & Colours

Inherent problems with frescoes are their fragility, incompleteness and artistic anonymity. In addition, in archaeological sites they are often uncovered removed indigenous their initial settings, making them extremely complicated to date. Perhaps, restoration contends times been over-imaginative yet nevertheless, the overwhelming impression offered by this art kind is the Minoan"s sheer happiness in fluid, naturalistic and also graceful develops represented in an impressionistic manner. Over there are likewise many making it through fresco fragments dating indigenous the 2nd phase palaces that 1550 to 1450 BCE, when the Mycenaeans began to take end the Minoan sites. However, as these space stylistically very similar to previously Minoan frescoes, they are debated as one in the adhering to remarks.

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As a technique, true fresco paint (buon fresco) is the paint of color pigments top top wet lime plaster there is no a binding agent.

As a technique, true fresco painting (buon fresco) is the painting of colour pigments on wet lime plaster without a binding agent and also when the paint is soaked up by the plaster the is fixed and also protected indigenous fading. The the Minoans employed together a technique in their buildings is shown by string impressions in the plaster and by the depth of the paint employed. Fresco secco, i beg your pardon is the applications of paint, in certain for details, ~ above a dry plaster was likewise used throughout the palaces together was the use of short relief in the plaster to give a shallow three dimensional effect. Colours employed were black (carbonaceous shale), red (haematite), white (hydrate of lime), yellow (ochre), blue (silicate that copper), and also green (blue and also yellow mixed). There are no surviving examples of shading impacts in Minoan frescoes, back interestingly, sometimes the colour of the background changes whilst the foreground subjects remain unchanged. Return the Egyptians did not usage true fresco, some of the colour conventions of your architectural painting were adopted by the Minoans. Male skin is usually red, mrs is white, and also for metals: gold is yellow, silver- is blue and bronze is red.


Fresco Subjects

The an initial examples of fresco in Crete are minimal to basic monochrome walls, most frequently red but sometimes additionally black. With enhancements in the quality of plaster and also pigments, the development of huge Minoan architecture and possibly through affect from Egypt and also the near East, the an approach was employed to decorate the walls (either in your entirety, over windows and doors or listed below the dado), ceilings, wood beams and sometimes floors that the palace complexes, depicting an initial abstract shapes and geometric designs and also then later, every manner of subjects varying in size from miniature to bigger than life size.

As in earlier seal and also ring engravings, famous scenes because that frescoes - and perhaps indicative the the role of the palaces in Minoan culture - were of rituals, processions, festivals, ceremonies and bull sports. Celebrated examples encompass two sit priestesses top top either next of a shrine, a grove the olive trees through dancers and also audience, 2 boxers, young men in a procession transporting rhytons, and also a scene of both male and female numbers in various stages that bull leaping - grasping the horns or somersaulting end the back of the animal. Top top occasion, fresco was additionally used to imitate architecture features, because that example, veined alabaster slabs painted top top the reduced portions of walls.

Natural subjects included flowers such together lilies, irises, crocuses, roses, and likewise plants such as ivy and also reeds. Indeed, the Minoans were one of the earliest societies to paint natural landscapes without any humans existing in the scene; such was your admiration that nature.

Animals were additionally commonly portrayed, most often in their herbal habitat, because that example, monkeys, birds, cats, goats, deer, sea urchins, dolphins and fish. Back Minoan frescoes were regularly framed v decorative borders of geometric design (spirals, diagonals, rosettes, and "maze" patterns), the major fresco itself, ~ above occasion, went beyond conventional borders such together corners and also covered number of walls, neighboring the viewer.


Other objects which received the fresco treatment incorporate the celebrated limestone sarcophagus indigenous Hagia Triada, a rare instance of a fresco enduring complete. Within decorated frames, various sides of the coffin present two goddesses, every in a chariot, one drawn by goats and also the various other by griffins, a step of a bull sacrifice and also a funeral scene.


The Minoan style in frescoes was influential both with modern cultures such together in the Cyclades (e.g. Akrotiri ~ above Thera, Phylakopi on Melos and also Hagia Irini top top Keos) and also with later on cultures, particularly the Mycenaean, albeit v slightly various subject matter such as shields and other martial paraphernalia and perhaps v a lesser importance offered to naturalism. Indeed, as far afield as Tel el Dab"a in Egypt, frescoes have actually been found which are notable for your similarity in format to the Minoan.

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Davaras, C. The royal residence of Knossos. Hannibal, AthensHutchinson, R.W. Ancient Crete. Penguin, London, 1968


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Mark is a background writer based in Italy. His special interests include pottery, architecture, world mythology and also discovering the principles that all people share in common. He holds an MA in politics Philosophy and also is the posting Director at WHE.