Art Term

Chiaroscuro

Chiaroscuro is an Italian term which translates as light-dark, and refers to the balance and pattern of light and shade in a painting or drawing

Joseph Wright of Derby, ‘An Iron Forge’ 1772
Joseph Wright of Derby
An Iron Forge 1772
Tate

Chiaroscuro is generally only remarked upon when it is a particularly prominent feature of the work, usually when the artist is using extreme contrasts of light and shade.

Selected artworks in the collection