Unidentified artist, detail, Calle Obrapía 158, early to mid-19th c., fresco or semi-fresco[?]


As mentioned, a shift in the style of mural paintings occurred around the turn of the nineteenth century, from larger, freehand-drawn paintings to more formal and Europeanized designs, as in this detail also from Calle Obrapía 158. We can see the influence of Pompeian-style mural painting in the manner that the wreaths top an architectural and illusionistic wainscoting punctuated by a vignette of a silhouetted figure.

Interestingly, the scholar Elisa Serrano González speculates that fresco painting techniques arrived with traveling artists to Cuba, like the Italian Juan de Rosas, particularly after the discovery of the murals at Pompeii (Serrano González 2005, 177). Yet, most colonial-era mural paintings in Havana are a combination of fresco and semi-fresco techniques, while others are simply painted on top of paint layers.