noun, plural chiaroscuros.
the distribution of light and shade in a picture.
Painting. the use of deep variations in and subtle gradations of light and shade, especially to enhance the delineation of character and for general dramatic effect: Rembrandt is a master of chiaroscuro.
a woodcut print in which the colors are produced by the use of different blocks with different colors.
a sketch in light and shade.

1680–90; < Italian, equivalent to chiaro bright (< Latin clārus) + oscuro dark (< Latin obscūrus). See clear, obscure Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
chiaroscuro (kɪˌɑːrəˈskʊərəʊ)
n , pl -ros
1.  the artistic distribution of light and dark masses in a picture
2.  monochrome painting using light and dark only, as in grisaille
[C17: from Italian, from chiaroclear + oscuroobscure]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

1680s, "disposition of light and dark in a picture," lit. "bright-dark," from It. chiaro (from L. clarus) + oscuro (from L. obscurus).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Her realist scenes are made all the more dramatic by chiaroscuro.
His lighting heightens the chiaroscuro effect and brings out all the details of
  face, manner and clothes.
The political world is a picture with a lot of chiaroscuro.
The violently contrasted chiaroscuro effects and the thrust of the brushwork
  charge the scene with dramatic intensity.
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