Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An underlying image in a painting, as an earlier painting, part of a painting, or original draft, that shows through, usually when the top layer of paint has become transparent with age.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An alteration in a painting, evidenced by traces of previous work, showing that the artist has changed his or her mind as to the composition during the process of painting.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the reappearance in a painting of an underlying image that had been painted over (usually when the later painting becomes transparent with age)

Etymologies

Italian, correction, pentimento, from pentire, to repent, from Latin paenitēre.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Italian pentimento. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • That is called pentimento because the painter 'repented', changed his mind.

    The scandalous Lillian Hellman

  • Would it seem foreign to her, or would she have some impossible memory of the place, a pentimento written in blood and bone?

    FALSE MERMAID

  • His poems are so dense and full of pentimento effects that he has more in common with T.S. Eliot than with Hughes or Larkin.

    Are You Smart Enough to Understand Geoffrey Hill? « One-Minute Book Reviews

  • It's an effect caused by the oil itself, and the effect is responsible for the unintended pentimento you occasionally come across in an old master's work.

    Daybreak Blues

  • Such veils would be susceptible to pentimento over time.

    Daybreak Blues

  • But what surprised me was not the restoration of the old but the advent of the new: the influx of innovators and entrepreneurs and creative young people who were painting, like a pentimento, fresh brushstrokes onto the canvas of New Orleans.

    American Sketches

  • Like a pentimento, New Orleans has long been a canvas repeatedly repainted.

    American Sketches

  • Has your neighbor canceled her subscription to the local paper and started swiping yours from the lawn at 5 a.m., rapidly doing and frenetically erasing the acrostic and then returning the paper to the lawn at 5: 35 but leaving a telltale pentimento of mostly incorrect answers?

    We'll Tell You When It Hurts

  • It is breathtakingly well done, like a pentimento beneath the figures of John Kenneth Galbraith and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and it helps to illustrate the degeneration of Kashmiri life and Kashmiri ethics.

    Hobbes in the Himalayas

  • Like the kills on the fuselage of an ace; a pentimento of scalps.

    The Whale Warriors

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