A general study of Minoan frescoes with particular reference to unpublished wall painting from Knossos
This four-part dissertation considers Minoan frescoes in their own right for a first time, with reference to unpublished paintings and nearly fifty new restorations, with a view to providing a new basis for historical reconstruction drawn from that source. Earliest developments begin with Neolithic architectural muse of mud plasters, the first painted plasters occuring in EM II settlements and simple decorative schemes in the First Palaces (1900-1700 B.C.). The sudden rise of pictorial naturalism in MM IIIA is explained by native cultural developments of the First Palace Period, not by foreign influences or "eideticism" which is rejected altogether. A review of the motival repertory leads to considerations of six main "cycles of ideas" whence the painters derived their themes. The most important, confined to Knossos palace, depicts a major festival of grand processions and athletic activities before the chief Minoan goddess, and it illuminates the palatial architechural design. But five different systems of mural decoration characterise Minoan architecture as a whole, with regional and perhaps autonomous variations at Cycadic sites. Technical considerations confirm "buon fresco" as the normal painting technique and distinguish Knossian town house and palace murals in construction and purpose. Similar distinctions in compositional design are also described. A review of eleven "schools" of Knossian painters and of regional artists precedes a detailed reconstruction of the dates of the frescoes on stratigraphical, stylistic and comparative evidence. Sir Arthur Evans's fresco dating should generally be lowered by one Minoan phase. Minoan pictorial painting ceases with the palace destruction at Knossos, c.1375 B.C. Major differences appear between pre- and post-LM IB frescoes, tentatively explained on the evidence of Aegean and Egyption pictorial representations by the arrival at Knossos of a Mycenaean military dynasty, c.1450 B.C. Minoan wall painting finally disappeared in the LM IIIB period.