fres·​co | \ ˈfre-(ˌ)skō How to pronounce fresco (audio) \
plural frescoes

Definition of fresco

1 : the art of painting on freshly spread moist lime plaster with water-based pigments
2 : a painting executed in fresco

Other Words from fresco

fresco transitive verb

Fresco and the Art World

The Italian word fresco means “fresh” and comes from a Germanic word akin to the source of English fresh. In the Renaissance, pittura a fresco, meaning “painting freshly,” referred to paint applied while the plaster on the wall was still wet, as opposed to pittura a secco “painting dryly,” in which paint is applied when the plaster was dry. In English, fresco appears earliest as part of the phrase in fresco; it does not appear as a noun referring to a painting until 1670. A different sense of Italian fresco, meaning “fresh air,” appears in the phrase al fresco “outdoors,” borrowed into English as alfresco and used particularly in reference to dining outdoors.

Examples of fresco in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The House of Leda and the Swan fresco is one of 70 artworks featured in the exhibition, which is accompanied by an app and a guide contextualizing the show for children. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian Magazine, 28 Apr. 2022 The ceiling fresco at the Barberini palace by Pietro Da Cortona is one of Rome’s most spectacular. Catherine Sabino, Forbes, 30 Jan. 2022 In other scenes, the hotel’s older guests congregate nude on a balcony under an elaborate fresco and cruise on a spiral staircase. Jack Parlett, The New Yorker, 15 Apr. 2022 Next to each fresco, an informational board shares details about the art and Michelangelo’s process, and a code is available for an audio guide for guests to tune in to while working their ways around the room. Anne Nickoloff, cleveland, 21 Jan. 2022 In the bedroom is a fresco of the Madonna and Child -- thought to have been painted by a teenage Raphael. Julia Buckley, CNN, 1 Feb. 2022 Unusually, the artwork is not a fresco, but rather an oil painting on plaster. Nora Mcgreevy, Smithsonian Magazine, 20 Jan. 2022 There’s even a fresco by Guercino in the main reception hall depicting the villa’s eponymous goddess Aurora. Rachel Cormack, Robb Report, 27 Oct. 2021 Her disappearance is just the first in a chain of mysterious events that started in the 17th century around an enigmatic fresco of an ancient spirit known as the Doghead. Christopher Vourlias, Variety, 16 Feb. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fresco.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of fresco

1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for fresco

Italian, from fresco fresh, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German frisc fresh

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Last Updated

22 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Fresco.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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Nglish: Translation of fresco for Spanish Speakers


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