Tenebrism vs. Chiaroscuro

Difference Between Tenebrism and Chiaroscuro Tenebrism and Chiaroscuro which are the names of two of the most renowned…

Difference Between Tenebrism and Chiaroscuro

Tenebrism and Chiaroscuro which are the names of two of the most renowned school of Italian painting are not only admired by the Italian artists but Dutch and Spanish artists are also fascinated with this school of art. This style of painting uses different shades of light and dark color mixture. These medival arts of Tenebrism and Chiaroscuro which have been passed on form the day they were born are still being practiced until now. The contrasting mishmash of light and dark makes the painting look like a fight between good and evil.


Also known as Tenebroso, Tenebrism in English means a very spectacular illumination. The illumination derives the element of melodrama due to the chaotic mixture of light and darkness. The famous painter from Italy- Michelangelo Caravaggio, was the one behind the creation of this form of art. He was well known for his world famous paintings that include Calling of Saint Matthew and Martyrdom of Saint Matthew.


Another school of Italian painting, Chiaroscuro also uses the element of light and darkness to create drama. Roger de Piles the master painter from the days of French Renaissance gave birth to this style of painting. The object of this school of painting is to create three dimensional effects on any object like a building, fruits, flowers and also physical aspects of human beings.

The popularity of Tenebrism was during the 17th A.D and it was around Italy and some what in Spain. However much before the time mentioned in the 14th century A.D when the French Renaissance was going on Chiaroscuro originated and gained popularity. While both were born from two artists from Europe artists, Tenebrism owes its origin to Italian painter Michelangelo Caravaggio and Chiaroscuro was born from the hands of French painter Roger de Piles. While the use of darkness is very acutely seen in Tenebrist art Chiaroscuro’s makes use of more light shades. Some of the famous artists from the Tenebrism School of art are Rembrandt, Gerrit van Honthorst. ON the other hand some of the great Chiaroscuro artists are Georges de La Tour, Leonardo da Vinci, and Botticelli etc.

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