Frescoes Expand The Interior Of Small Rooms


The Romans used frescoes to expand their interiors, which were often small and claustrophobic. The history of Roman painting is essentially a history of frescoes, that is of wall paintings on plaster. The painting is done rapidly in watercolor so the colors penetrate the plaster and become fixed as they dry. Although ancient literary references inform us of Roman paintings on wood, ivory, and other materials, works that have survived are in the durable medium of fresco.


A fresco is made by first preparing the wall with 1-3 coats of mortar (a lime and sand mix), then covering that with 1-3 coats of lime mixed with finely powdered marble. While this plaster is still wet, pigments are applied in the desired design so as to create a painting that is actually part of the wall.


When Miriam is called in “Believing is Seeing” to the house where the landlord’s servant found the body of a favorite tenant, she surveys the marble atrium: “Fingers of a winter sun were poking through the door, stretching across the onyx floor, and dusting the paneled walls frescoed with swirling vines and flowers.” So, we can conclude that frescoes adorned the walls of even ordinary homes.


“Believing is Seeing,” a locked-room murder mystery, will be published soon in a collection of Miriam bat Isaac short stories titled The Deadliest Deceptions.

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