noun \-ˈskyr-(ˌ)ō, -ˈskr-\
plural -ros

Definition of CHIAROSCURO

:  pictorial representation in terms of light and shade without regard to color
a :  the arrangement or treatment of light and dark parts in a pictorial work of art
b :  the interplay or contrast of dissimilar qualities (as of mood or character)
:  a 16th century woodcut technique involving the use of several blocks to print different tones of the same color; also :  a print made by this technique
:  the interplay of light and shadow on or as if on a surface
:  the quality of being veiled or partly in shadow


Italian, from chiaro clear, light + oscuro obscure, dark
First Known Use: 1686

Other Fine Arts Terms

Gothic, baroque, bas-relief, limn, oeuvre, pastiche, rococo, sfumato


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Contrasting effects of light and shade in a work of art. Leonardo da Vinci brought the technique to its full potential, but it is usually associated with such 17th-century artists as Caravaggio and Rembrandt, who used it to outstanding effect. The chiaroscuro woodcut, produced by printing different tones of a colour from separate woodblocks on a single sheet of paper, was first produced in 16th-century Italy.


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