/kee ahr'euh skyoor"oh/, n., pl. chiaroscuros.1. the distribution of light and shade in a picture.2. Painting. the use of deep variations in and subtle gradations of light and shade, esp. to enhance the delineation of character and for general dramatic effect: Rembrandt is a master of chiaroscuro.3. a woodcut print in which the colors are produced by the use of different blocks with different colors.4. a sketch in light and shade.[1680-90; < It, equiv. to chiaro bright ( < L clarus) + oscuro dark ( < L obscurus). See CLEAR, OBSCURE]
* * *(Italian; "light-dark")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.
* * *▪ artfrom Italianchiaro, “light”; scuro, “dark”technique employed in the visual arts to represent light and shadow as they define three-dimensional objects.Some evidence exists that ancient Greek and Roman artists used chiaroscuro effects, but in European painting the technique was first brought to its full potential by Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci, Leonardo) in the late 15th century in such paintings as his Adoration of the Magi (1481). Thereafter, chiaroscuro became a primary technique for many painters, and by the late 17th century the term was routinely used to describe any painting, drawing, or print that depends for its effect on an extensive gradation of light and darkness.In its most dramatic form—as in the works of those Italian artists of the 17th century who came under the influence of Caravaggio—it was known as tenebrismo, or tenebrism. Caravaggio and his followers used a harsh, dramatic light to isolate their figures and heighten their emotional tension. Another outstanding master of chiaroscuro was Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn), who used it with remarkable psychological effect in his paintings, drawings, and etchings. Peter Paul Rubens (Rubens, Peter Paul), Diego Velazquez (Velázquez, Diego), and many other, lesser painters of the Baroque period also used chiaroscuro to great effect. The delicacy and lightness of 18th-century Rococo painting represents a rejection of this dramatic use of chiaroscuro, but the technique again became popular with artists of the Romantic period, who relied upon it to create the emotive effects they considered so important in their art.In the graphic arts, the term chiaroscuro refers to a particular technique for making a woodcut print in which effects of light and shade are produced by printing each tone from a different wood block. The technique was first used in woodcuts (woodcut) in Italy in the 16th century, probably by the printmaker Ugo da Carpi (Carpi, Ugo da). To make a chiaroscuro woodcut, the key block was inked with the darkest tone and printed first. Subsequent blocks were inked with progressively lighter tones and carefully measured to print in register with the key block. Chiaroscuro woodcuts are printed in only one colour, brown, gray, green, and sepia being preferred. The process attempted to imitate wash and watercolour drawings and also became popular as an inexpensive method of reproducing paintings.
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