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contrapposto

[kohn-truh-pos-toh] /ˌkoʊn trəˈpɒs toʊ/
noun, plural contrappostos. Fine Arts.
1.
a representation of the human body in which the forms are organized on a varying or curving axis to provide an asymmetrical balance to the figure.
Origin
1900-1905
1900-05; < Italian < Latin contrāpositus, past participle of contrāpōnere to place against. See contra1, posit
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for contrapposto
  • He stands in a dynamic contrapposto pose with his right hand holding a quill pen.
British Dictionary definitions for contrapposto

contrapposto

/ˌkɒntrəˈpɒstəʊ/
noun (pl) -tos
1.
(in the visual arts) a curving or asymmetrical arrangement of the human figure with the shoulders, hips, and legs in different planes
Word Origin
C20: from Italian, from the past participle of contrapporre, from Latin contracontra- + pōnere to place
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for contrapposto
n.

1903, from Italian contrapposto, past participle of contrapporre, from Latin contraponere (see contraposition).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for contrapposto

((Italian: "opposite"), in the visual arts, a sculptural scheme, originated by the ancient Greeks, in which the standing human figure is poised such that the weight rests on one leg (called the engaged leg), freeing the other leg, which is bent at the knee. With the weight shift, the hips, shoulders, and head tilt, suggesting relaxation with the subtle internal organic movement that denotes life. Contrapposto may be used for draped as well as nude figures. The Greeks invented this formula in the early 5th century BC as an alternative to the stiffly static pose-in which the weight is distributed equally on both legs-that had dominated Greek figure sculpture in earlier periods. There is a clear development from the "Critius Boy" of the 5th century, whose leg is bent while his torso remains erect, to the completely relaxed 4th-century "Hermes Carrying the Infant Dionysus" by Praxiteles. The rhythmic ease of the contrapposto pose vastly enlarged the expressive possibilities of figure sculpture.

Learn more about contrapposto with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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