Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

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

from The Century Dictionary.

  • 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.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

Etymologies

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

[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).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Italian sfumato, 'shaded, toned down' (1909)

Examples

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  • Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) became the most prominent practitioner of sfumato. The face of Mona Lisa uses sfumato, particularly in the shading around the eyes.
    See detail of face here.

    March 7, 2016