chiar·​oscu·​ro | \ kē-ˌär-ə-ˈskyu̇r-(ˌ)ō, -ˈsku̇r-\
plural chiaroscuros

Definition of chiaroscuro

1 : pictorial representation in terms of light and shade without regard to color
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 : 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 : 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 : the quality of being veiled or partly in shadow

Examples of chiaroscuro in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

With figures and objects materializing in space from darkness and gloom, chiaroscuro could be a pictorial metaphor for enlightenment — the proverbial light bulb moment, or the visual equivalent of something dawning on you. Christopher Knight,, "Out of the shadows and into the light: 'Chiaroscuro Woodcut' is a sleeper hit at LACMA," 5 July 2018 While there is great beauty in the chiaroscuro interplay between his expressionistic dissonances and Renaissance-style harmonies, his works never build toward resolution or transfiguration. New York Times, "Cancer Haunts a Composer’s Life and Work," 3 June 2018 Every choice seems as extreme as possible, from the cut of the costumes (by Clint Ramos) to the chiaroscuro lighting (by Rui Rita). Jesse Green, New York Times, "Review: Downtown Renewal Means Trouble in ‘Paradise Blue’," 14 May 2018 Distorting the view with chiaroscuro lighting and wide-lens camerawork, the filmmaker and DP Larry Manda also persist in using diagonal shots, with characters and their relationship with their setting frequently thrown out of joint. Clarence Tsui, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Season of the Devil' ('Ang Panahon ng Halimaw'): Film Review | Berlin 2018," 20 Feb. 2018 This is a certain style of photography called chiaroscuro, which used to fascinate me as a kid. Isobel Thompson, A-LIST, "Jack Cardiff: “The Man Who Made Women Look Beautiful”," 6 Sep. 2017 Looking for a little chiaroscuro to light up your Thanksgiving weekend? Booth Moore, The Hollywood Reporter, "Fendi Brings Caravaggio to the Getty Center," 20 Nov. 2017 The film’s title evokes one of Mr. Joseph’s critical influences: the photographer Roy DeCarava, renowned for his chiaroscuro images of Harlem life and culture. Daniel Mcdermon, New York Times, "Kahlil Joseph’s New Film Is Steeped in Harlem’s History. And His Own.," 31 Oct. 2017 The sequel, scheduled for February 2017, indeed contains intrigue, an assassination plot, gun-slinging, and a lot of confused feelings, which the as-yet-unnamed director will be sure to play up with some chiaroscuro and tremolo on the soundtrack. Chelsea Peng, Marie Claire, "'Fifty Shades' Producer to Thirsty Henry Cavill Fans: Cool Your Loins," 22 Sep. 2015

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'chiaroscuro.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of chiaroscuro

1686, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for chiaroscuro

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

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14 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for chiaroscuro

The first known use of chiaroscuro was in 1686

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