Egyptian Frescoes

Stone surfaces were prepared by whitewash, or if rough, a layer of coarse mud plaster, with a smoother gesso layer above. Pigments were mostly mineral, chosen to withstand strong sunlight without fading. It is clear that true fresco, painted into a thin layer of wet plaster, was not used. Instead, the paint was applied to dried plaster, in what is called fresco a secco in Italian. 

Nebamun hunting birds from the Tomb of Nebamun, c. 1350 BC. British Museum.

Many ancient Egyptian paintings have survived in tombs due to Egypt’s extremely dry climate. The paintings were often made with the intent of making a pleasant afterlife for the deceased. The themes included journey through the afterworld or protective deities introducing the deceased to the gods of the Underworld. Some tomb paintings show activities that the deceased were involved in when they were alive and wished to carry on doing for eternity.

Nebamun’s estate garden from the Tomb of Nebamun, c. 1350 BC. British Museum.

Painting also survives in Ancient Egyptian temples but are far more scarce.

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