Definitions

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

  • n. The blurring or softening of sharp outlines in painting by subtle and gradual blending of one tone into another.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. In painting, the application of subtle layers of translucent paint so that there is no visible transition between colors, tones and often objects.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Having vague outlines, and colors and shades so mingled as to give a misty appearance; -- said of a painting.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • In painting, smoked: noting a style of painting wherein the tints are so blended that outlines are scarcely perceptible, the effect of the whole being indistinct or misty.

Etymologies

Italian, from past participle of sfumare, to evaporate, fade out : s-, from (from Latin ex-; see ex-) + fumare, to smoke (from Latin fūmāre; see fumatory).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Italian sfumato, 'shaded, toned down' (1909) (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • In particular, he developed a theory and practice revolving around the representation of shadows, called sfumato .

    Leonardo's Optics in Action, in Paint

  • It is like a picture, or a succession of pictures, painted in what the Italians call the sfumato, or “smoky” manner.

    The Life and Genius of Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • But, despite sharing admiration for the grand master, art historians cannot yet agree on how exactly Leonardo managed to generate this effect referred to as sfumato after the Italian "fumo" for smoke.

    physicsworld.com: all content

  • Vinci's brush strokes and a technique called sfumato, which he used to hide transitions between dark and light areas and to create realistic shading.

    Discover Blogs

  • This technique is called sfumato (from the Italian for "foggy").

    PhysOrg.com - latest science and technology news stories

  • The technique, called "sfumato," allowed da Vinci to give outlines and contours a hazy quality and create an illusion of depth and shadow.

    X-ray study unlocks some of the 'Mona Lisa' magic

  • Actors seem to displace an image of mist — what the creative team calls "sfumato," after the Renaissance painting technique — as they move in front of it.

    A Digital Night at the Opera

  • Looking at the first picture, the word "sfumato" comes to mind...

    Edges in Moonlight

  • It's related to the concept of "sfumato," the smoky atmospherics made famous by Da Vinci in works like the Mona Lisa.

    Archive 2008-10-01

  • In this context, the great merit of De Donder was that he extracted the entropy production out of this "sfumato" when related it in a precise way to the pace of a chemical reaction, through the use of a new function that he was to call "affinity" .3

    Ilya Prigogine - Autobiography

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