Different forms of stucco have been used throughout the Mediterranian for centuries. It was mainly comprised of a crushed or burned gypsum or lime that was mixed with water and sand. It had the ability to be easily molded into decorations, figurines and was even used in architectural work, such as ceilings, walls and floors. Some people even used it to make molds for metal accent pieces, using bronze.
What eventually would be called Roman Stuccowork, evolved during the Hellenistic Period and combined Greek and Egyptian methods. The Egyptians used stucco for sculptures, tombs and many other items, while the Greeks mainly used it for architectural reasons.
The Romans used more of the Greek's method when it came to mixing up their recipe by implementing a white lime type of plaster, which was very pliable and fairly lightweight. This was also the type of mix that was used in fresco paintings and is even mentioned by a few infamous authors of the period.
As the popularity of brick and cement construction grew, so did the interest for stuccowork. It was used in many different interior spaces, floors and sculptures in and around Europe.
They oftentimes used paintings and stuccowork together to form a 3d model that would look as if it popped out of the painting. This is much more different than today's modern stucco uses.
The decorative pieces that were mounted high above the ground were often times secured with metal nails or rods. Some of these pieces were formed prior to the installation and others were applied directly to the wall and sculpted right on the spot. Sometimes they would stamp patterns into the walls that resembled the egg and dart look, which was something that was all too common in Roman wall paintings.
Vaulted arches, ceilings and lunettes, were also made by the Romans using basic stuccowork principles. This type of look was inspired by Hellenistic buildings that were constructed from wood, stone or both. They were able to achieve this by using premade panels that had a specific design imprinted within it.
Some of these panels would have animals, vegetal artwork
Some examples can be seen like the ones at the Metropolitan Museum, which are small pieces of what made up a larger, more intricate arch that gives us insight on what these details really looked like.
If you look closely, you will notice the 3-D effect of the figurine. It was added to the background afterwards, when it was dry enough to add more material to. Most stuccowork like this was left white, but was occasionally painted.
There are so many more extraordinary examples of this type of artwork all around the world. This is one of my favorites architectural subjects, what about you?