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(sometimes capital) a school, style, or method of painting, adopted chiefly by 17th-century Spanish and Neapolitan painters, esp Caravaggio, characterized by large areas of dark colours, usually relieved with a shaft of light
Derived Forms
tenebrist, noun, adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
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Word Origin and History for tenebrism

1959, from tenebroso (1886), from Italian tenebroso "dark," from Latin tenebrosus, from tenebrae "darkness" (see temerity).

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

in the history of Western painting, the use of extreme contrasts of light and dark in figurative compositions to heighten their dramatic effect. (The term is derived from the Latin tenebrae, "darkness.") In tenebrist paintings the figures are often portrayed against a background of intense darkness, but the figures themselves are illuminated by a bright, searching light that sets off their three-dimensional forms by a harsh but exquisitely controlled chiaroscuro (q.v.). The technique was introduced by the Italian painter Caravaggio (1571?-1610) and was taken up in the early 17th century by painters influenced by him, including the French painter Georges de La Tour, the Dutch painters Gerrit van Honthorst and Hendrik Terbrugghen, and the Spanish painter Francisco de Zurbaran.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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