sfu·​ma·​to | \ sfü-ˈmä-(ˌ)tō How to pronounce sfumato (audio) \

Definition of sfumato

: the definition of form in painting without abrupt outline by the blending of one tone into another

Examples of sfumato in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Her soft hair has been rendered with smoky, blurry brush strokes that anticipate Leonardo’s mastery of sfumato by decades. Jason Farago, New York Times, "Jan Van Eyck’s Diamond-Hard Brilliance, as You’ll Never See It Again," 27 Feb. 2020 So, for all the hype surrounding it, the exhibition offers a precious opportunity to find a bit of focus in the fog, to draw something substantial out of the sfumato. Washington Post, "Quiet, please. At the Louvre’s ‘Léonard de Vinci’ exhibition, you’re in the presence of genius.," 29 Oct. 2019 That’s because the artist’s famed sfumato technique—a blurring of outlines—gives the painting an ethereal quality that is exceedingly hard to mimic on a sentient face. Claudia Kalb, National Geographic, "See where Leonardo da Vinci still walks the streets," 6 June 2019 Resounding and joyful, the rich complexity of its sound evokes the luminescence of Leonardo’s paintings—a musical sfumato with soft edges and lingering tones. Claudia Kalb, National Geographic, "Why Leonardo da Vinci’s brilliance endures, 500 years after his death," 12 June 2019 But Leonardo’s ability to blur the line between reality and imagination, just like his sfumato technique for blurring the lines of a painting, was a key to his creativity. Walter Isaacson, WSJ, "The Lessons of Leonardo: How to Be a Creative Genius," 29 Sep. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sfumato.' 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 sfumato

1909, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for sfumato

Italian, from past participle of sfumare to evaporate

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Time Traveler for sfumato

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The first known use of sfumato was in 1909

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Cite this Entry

“Sfumato.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sfumato. Accessed 21 Apr. 2021.

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Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about sfumato

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