(also fresco secco)
mass noun
The technique of painting on dry plaster with pigments mixed in water.

Mid 19th century: from Italian, literally ‘dry’, from Latin siccus.


Goggia Guantanamo mixed plaster for a living. At night, he often returned to do murals on his recent walls. Sometimes the plaster was still wet, but often he was delayed and his painting needed to be done using secco.


“Fresco-secco” is apparently a common description for this form of painting. Somehow, that is a big fail for me. Fresco meaning “fresh” (wet) plaster painting as a style of mural work makes sense only used alone. I’m guessing that the word fresco has come to mean generally painting on plaster instead of specifically fresh plaster. That’s the nature of words. They change through the use made of them by people. People, being who we are, don’t have strict definitions in our minds as we speak and write. The result is language which flexes and changes over time. This is merely one more example.

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