Spring Fresco, Akrotiri, Thera (Cyclades), Greece, 1650 BCE

In 1967, Greek archeologists began an excavation project at Akrotiri on the volcanic island of Santorine (ancient Thera), which is located about sixty miles north of the island of Crete. This project is still going on today. Through excavations, archeologists unearthed many works of art by people who used to live in Thera. Unlike works of art unearthed from the island of Crete, most of the works found in Thera are relatively well-preserved. This is because a volcano erupted and preserved many cities. Thus, in a way, Akrotiri is like the “Pompeii” of the island of Thera. The island is best known for its frescoes, which people call Thera frescoes.

One of the frescoes unearthed during the excavation project is the one above, named Spring Fresco. As you one can see, it is pretty much almost perfectly preserved. Spring Fresco is one of the earliest landscape paintings (see the post on the first landscape painting by clicking here). In this painting, the artist’s goal was obviously not to depict the landscape naturally and realistically, Instead, the artist’s aim was simple to capture the essence of the spring landscape. To do so, the painter employed undulating, free-flowing, organic lines, and used lively, spring colors. The vividly colored rocks, the gracefully swaying lilies in the cool gentle breeze, and the flying swallows seem to perfectly capture the essence of springtime as they express the vigor of growth, flowering, and the lightness of birdsong and flight. Through these depictions, the artist embodied the rhythms of spring.

I think that this is such an interesting fresco. I love the color scheme because the colors complement each other well. The fresco does have a spring feel to it so I think that its title is quite appropriate (although this title was not given by the artist himself or herself). The shapes in the painting are organic and a little whimsical. In a way, the shapes remind me of the drawings from Dr. Seuss stories. I really like this fresco.

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