Definition of chiaroscuro in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /kɪˌɑːrəˈskʊərəʊ/


[mass noun]
1The treatment of light and shade in drawing and painting.
Example sentences
  • The brusque application of plaster disrupts the logic of the painting's chiaroscuro.
  • Each vignette, usually showing one or two figures, is a little anthology of effects, combining contour drawing, crosshatching, chiaroscuro, graphic boldness and delicate detailing.
  • Then he saw the light - in the form of Caravaggio's dramatic chiaroscuro - and became one of that master's most resourceful followers.
1.1An effect of contrasted light and shadow: the chiaroscuro of cobbled streets
More example sentences
  • Inhabiting these buildings are the depth, the reflections, the veils, the chiaroscuros, and an attenuated clarity that are created by the shade.
  • The column screens and niches around the room create a mysterious and alluring chiaroscuro effect.
  • I also distrust the general air onstage of High Significance, which owes far too much to the handsome chiaroscuro of the lighting and the future-chic costumes.


Mid 17th century: from Italian, from chiaro 'clear, bright' (from Latin clarus) + oscuro 'dark, obscure' (from Latin obscurus).

Words that rhyme with chiaroscuro

bureau, Douro, enduro, euro, Ishiguro, Oruro, Truro

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: chiaro|scuro

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.