noun, plural chi·a·ro·scu·ros.

  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, especially 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.

noun plural -ros

  1. the artistic distribution of light and dark masses in a picture
  2. monochrome painting using light and dark only, as in grisaille

1680s, “disposition of light and dark in a picture,” literally “bright-dark,” from Italian chiaro “clear, bright” (from Latin clarus; see clear (adj.)) + oscuro (from Latin obscurus; see obscure (adj.)). Related: Chiaroscurist.

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