noun chiar·oscu·ro \-ˈskyu̇r-(ˌ)ō, -ˈsku̇r-\

Definition of chiaroscuro



  1. 1 :  pictorial representation in terms of light and shade without regard to color

  2. 2a :  the arrangement or treatment of light and dark parts in a pictorial work of art The artist uses chiaroscuro to create the perception of depth in a two-dimensional work.b :  the interplay or contrast of dissimilar qualities (as of mood or character)

  3. 3 :  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

  4. 4 :  the interplay of light and shadow on or as if on a surface a spotlight revealing a chiaroscuro of ridges and craters on a mountainside

  5. 5 :  the quality of being veiled or partly in shadow

Origin and Etymology of chiaroscuro

Italian, from chiaro clear, light + oscuro obscure, dark

First Known Use: 1686

Other Fine Arts Terms

Learn More about chiaroscuro

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up chiaroscuro? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a brief usually trivial fact

Get Word of the Day daily email!