The visual art is a visual object or experience consciously created through an expression of skill or imagination . The term art encompasses various media such as painting, sculpture, printmaking, drawing, decorative arts, photography, and installation. The various visual arts exist within a domain that encompasses aesthetic purposes and purely utilitarian purposes . There are also many techniques to reflect art, among them we have chiaroscuro.




What is chiaroscuro?

Chiaroscuro is a contrast that occurs between shadows and light when we talk about painting techniques in a work, it is a technique that uses contrasts to highlight elements of the painting.



Chiaroscuro is a technique used in painting which consists of using different contrasts between the illuminated volumes and between the shadows that a painting has to more effectively highlight some of its elements . It is a technique that seeks the correct distribution of the lights to complement them with the shadows . It can also be said that it is a subtle transition that occurs between light and dark that implies at the same time the presence of light and color within a painting.

Characteristics of chiaroscuro

With regard to chiaroscuro, the main characteristics that we can observe are the following:

  • Use contrasts between the illuminated and shadowed volumes to highlight some of the elements present in the painting.
  • Seeks to represent objects from areas of light and soma .
  • It uses a simultaneous contrast of tones.
  • It allows the proper modeling of shapes and affects the change of light within the composition.
  • It is a rating system that affects all the elements of the table.
  • The light is directed towards the object to be highlighted.
  • The shadows of the pictures are achieved using the color black.
  • It is a technique typical of the Renaissance and the Baroque period .


The chiaroscuro finds its origin during the Renaissance period and at first it was known as a drawing on colored paper, in which the artist worked using the tone of the base of the paper towards the light with white gouache , and made the darkness with ink. .


There is evidence that Greek and Roman artists used the effects of chiaroscuro in their works, but in European painting , the technique was brought to its full potential thanks to Leonardo da Vinci in the late 15th century in paintings such as his Adoration of the Magi. Thereafter, chiaroscuro became a primary technique for many of the painters of the time, and by the late 17th century, the term was used to describe any painting , drawing, or print that depended on its effect in an extensive gradation. of light and darkness .

The chiaroscuro technique was initially developed by the Flemish and Italian painters of the Cinquecento, the technique would reach its maturity in the Baroque , especially with Michelangelo Caravaggio, giving rise to the style called tenebrism .


The elements that we can observe in the chiaroscuro technique are the following:

  • Light source
  • Space
  • Shapes
  • Techniques and procedures

Types of chiaroscuro

One of the most recognized types of chiaroscuro was tenebrism , which was an application of the chiaroscuro technique by means of which the central figures had a lot of lighting and the background was generally very dark . It was a very important type of chiaroscuro at the end of the 16th century. Another type of chiaroscuro painting was chiaroscuro , a style that used different plates to color the images.


The areas that can be viewed in a chiaroscuro frame are the following:

  • Lighting area clear : was part of the picture receiving all the rays of light directly.
  • Twilight zone: called the opaque tone zone , it was in charge of identifying the intermediate zone , the light zone and the dark one, and used a great variety of gray colors .
  • Dark area:  it is also known by the name of its own shadow area since it does not receive any ray of light and is always dark.
  • Projected  area : this area is responsible for identifying an object that is projected onto others or onto a surface that is where it is located.
  • Reflection area : it is the part of the painting that receives the light that is reflected from other bodies that are inside the painting and has quite bright tones . With it seeks to enhance the volume with the objects , the expressions and also tries to give more life to the drawing.

What is it for

The chiaroscuro technique basically helps us to give greater enhancement to the objects that are inside the painting, to be able to explain the shape they have, because the outline works as a kind of perpendicular section.

Artists who have used chiaroscuro

Among the great artists who have used this technique we can mention:

  • Rembrandt : He was a Dutch painterconsidered the master of chiaroscuro. He used the technique to represent two things: the psychology of the character he portrays or, in other words, his state of mind; and second, to represent their features . For him the most important thing was to portray the face.
  • Caravaggio : he was one of the main artists who used the chiaroscuro technique. Two of his most important works with the technique were “The flagellation of Christ” and “Death of the virgin . ” He is recognized for having accentuated the use of the technique and for giving more importance to the dark areas of the image. His works were quite controversial and generally his models to represent religious figures were people of low class or bad reputation.

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