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“paintings on walls and ceilings” and “painting of portraits, landscapes”

There is a word which refers specifically to large landscape wall painting (I'm thinking in terms of the Roman wall paintings in Campania) and for the life of me I can't remember it. All my searches for it come up with a blank, and I'm trying to work towards a deadline which I can't reach unless I can search for articles specific to this term! Anyone know what I'm talking about? I think it's a technical term, perhaps with the stem "mega" which seems to ring a bell, but apart from that my mind is a complete blank!

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marked as duplicate by coleopterist, Mitch, MετάEd, Daniel, Matt E. Эллен Oct 4 '12 at 9:50

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You are probably looking for fresco or mezzo-fresco. – coleopterist Oct 3 '12 at 15:25
Nope, not fresco nor mezzo-fresco; it's a technical term for big landscape wall paintings. – Frank Oct 3 '12 at 16:21
Wordnik (and, suspiciously, only Wordnik) has topia: "n. A fanciful style of mural decoration, generally consisting of landscapes of a very heterogeneous character, resembling those of the Chinese, much used in ancient Roman houses." But, even insofar as this is a real word, it refers not to the size, but the contents of the painting. – Marthaª Oct 3 '12 at 16:54

Since you are thinking in terms of the Roman wall paintings in Campania and considering that you remember that this word starts with "mega-", I propose "megalography" for the following reasons.

Marcus Vitruvius Pollio (born c. 80–70 BC, died after c. 15 BC) was a Roman writer, architect and engineer, active in the 1st century BC. He is best known as the author of the multi-volume work De Architectura ("On Architecture"). In De Architectura he called the style you are referring to "megalography".

Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia (Wordnik) reads: megalography, n. A drawing of pictures to a large scale; but I'm not able to find this word in other dictionary.

For those whose known Italian language I report the following piece from Italian Wikipedia: "In questo periodo nacque così anche la figura del paesaggista, che, a Pompei, dipingeva i particolari dei giardini, molto richiesti dai committenti. Vitruvio nel VII libro si dilungò a descrivere la pittura degli "antichi", individuata come quella di primo e secondo stile: citò infatti, nell'ordine, l'incrostazione marmorea, poi uno stile a noi ignoto, con "cornicioni e riquadrature in giallo ocra", variamente disposte tra loro. Il successivo stile (secondo) era secondo lui un'imitazione di vedute di edifici, colonne e frontoni sporgenti e, negli spazi più grandi, di esedre dove venivano raffigurate intere scene figurate, tragiche, comiche o satiriche; nelle galleria invece si usavano particolari paesistici (porti di mare, promontori, coste, fiumi, sorgenti, edifici, boschetti, montagne, pastori con greggi. Infine cita le "megalografie" (a soggetto determinato), con simulacri di divinità, favole mitologiche, guerre troianae o peregrinazioni di Ulisse."

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Carlo, you are a beautiful, beautiful person; that's exactly it. Thank you so much! – Frank Oct 3 '12 at 17:32
@Frank, Be sure to accept Carlo_R's answer! – JLG Oct 3 '12 at 17:36
@Mitch The Italians seem to know the word very well. Megalography seems to be the English translation. (A simple translator can confirm this; translators won't do this unless it is a word.) – Souta Oct 3 '12 at 22:32
@Souta. Italians may probably understand the word well enough, because of the prefix "megalo" from Greek to indicate "big" and the ending "graphy", which is to be found in so many words (geography, bibliography, cinematography, etc). However, this is the first time I've heard the term myself, either in English or in its supposed Italian version. And I don't think I am so little read, either. – Paola Oct 3 '12 at 23:03
+1 Interesting ... the only reference OneLook finds besides Wordnik is ArtLex Lexicon of Visual Art Terminology, reading: "megalography - A genre in which representations are intended to glorify or idealize excessively some event, person or thing." So perhaps this word has a different technical meaning in the English art world. – MετάEd Oct 4 '12 at 0:19

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