chiar·​oscu·​ro | \ kē-ˌär-ə-ˈskyu̇r-(ˌ)ō How to pronounce chiaroscuro (audio) , -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

In addition to her videography and editing, Alaniz contributes a series of black-and-white photographs that reference and use the Renaissance technique of chiaroscuro. Darryl Ratcliff, Dallas News, "Latina artists in Dallas showcase 'were told ‘no,’ and they triumphed anyway’," 25 July 2019 The light from Riis’s flash powder revealed the nooks and crannies of poverty, the chiaroscuro of dirt and bedraggled cloth on skin illuminated by a burst of fire from the gizmo that shocked the subjects being photographed. Marlo Safi, National Review, "A Raw Look at the New ‘Other Half’," 29 June 2019 And in the perfect chiaroscuro, this is a woman who thrives on the frisson of impossible love. Soraya Roberts, Longreads, "Fashions Fade, But Fleabag Is Forever," 8 June 2019 Galileo drew on art techniques like perspective and chiaroscuro—a manner of depicting light and shadows that was relatively new at the time — to show the lofty mountains and craters on the moon’s imperfect surface. Mara Johnson-groh, Quartz, "Art plays an invaluable role in groundbreaking space discoveries," 8 June 2019 After polishing off a skewer of lamb, Roodt invites me into his living room, a cavernous space dominated by chiaroscuro paintings of doll-like children in pastoral scenes. Gregory Barber, WIRED, "Inside an All-White Town’s Divisive Experiment With Cryptocurrency," 6 June 2019 The dark negative spaces in this loose arrangement contrast with the light flowers, echoing Hopper’s chiaroscuro. Lindsey Taylor, WSJ, "If American Painter Edward Hopper Were a Florist," 20 July 2018 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

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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Last Updated

30 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for chiaroscuro

The first known use of chiaroscuro was in 1686

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authorized for issue (as a bond)

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