Difference Between Tenebrism and Chiaroscuro

Tenebrism and Chiaroscuro are two of the most famous forms of Italian artwork. Both these forms of art use dark and light contrasts. However, there are considerable differences between the two.

Tenebrism gained popularity during the 17th century in Italy and some parts of Spain. On the other hand, Chiaroscuro became famous during the Renaissance era, back in the 14th century.

Tenebrism was invented by Michelangelo Caravaggio of Italy, while Chiaroscuro was invented by Roger de Piles of France.

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Continue reading Difference Between Tenebrism and Chiaroscuro below …


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    In Tenebrism, the effect of darkness dominates the artwork whereas in Chiaroscuro, the artists use more light in their paintings.

    Rembrandt, Gerrit van Honthorst, and Georges de La Tour are considered among the most famous artists that painted in the style of Tenebrism. In contrast, Leonardo da Vinci and Botticelli are popular Chiaroscuro artists.

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    This style is also known as dramatic illumination and is called Tenebroso by the Italians. It is a style of painting in which light and dark contrasts are used. However, the feature of darkness is more prominent in this artwork, as compared to the elements of light. Although this technique of painting was widely used in ancient times by the artists like Albrecht Durer, its invention is mostly credited to Michelangelo Caravaggio, who was a Baroque artist.

    The most famous paintings of Caravaggio include Calling of Saint Matthew and Martyrdom of Saint Matthew. After Caravaggio, his follower, Artemisia Gentileschi was considered one of the most influential artists in Tenebrism.

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    This is also an Italian art style in which strong light and dark contrasts are used, with the lighter accents being more prominent than the darker ones. Moreover, the contrasts used are quite bold, which affects the whole composition. It has also been used as a technical term by famous artists and art historians, to refer to the light in paintings which helps portray three-dimensional models e.g. the human body.

    The effects of chiaroscuro can also be used in cinematography and photography. In addition, it is also used in woodcutting to colour different blocks of wood with different inks and drawings. Besides, it can also be used to draw different objects on paper by using dark, medium, and white highlighting.

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