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The blurring or softening of sharp outlines in painting by subtle and gradual blending of one tone into another.

[Italian, from past participle of sfumare, to evaporate, fade out : s-, from (from Latin ex-; see ex-) + fumare, to smoke (from Latin fūmāre; see fumatory).]


(Art Terms) (in painting) a gradual transition between areas of different colour, avoiding sharp outlines
[from Italian, from sfumato shaded off, from sfumare to shade off, from Latin ex-1 + fūmāre to smoke]


(sfuˈmɑ toʊ)

n., pl. -tos.
gradation of tone used to blur the outlines of a form in painting.
[1840–50; < Italian, past participle of sfumare to gradate tone or color]
References in periodicals archive ?
It is also surely of relevance that figures from Leonardo's oeuvre were transposed, removed from their original compositions and repeated in artworks by others--sometimes without any attempt at sfumato and with the introduction of contours.
The Ancient Greek section is led by a stunning marble sfumato of Aphrodite from the island of Rhodes.
More recently, the works have become visually streamlined, and in one of most successful paintings in this show, 201431 (all works 2014), black and gray brushstrokes vertically traverse the left side of the canvas, on top of a receding lavender back - ground whose airbrushed sfumato subtly hides what might be a staircase, hinted at with pale horizontal strokes; in 201412, thick and thin diagonal strokes of light yellow and gray read as a pile of timber or steel beams.
34) Likewise, Plato / Leonardo was painted in Leonardo's own sfumato style.
The most interesting of the trio, by a distance, is the disquieting Medea, My Mother, written by Ivan Dobchev and Stefan Ivanov, and performed by Theatre Laboratory Sfumato from Sofia.
1) Vi sono state epoche storiche durante le quali la percezione di tale vicinanza e stata piu forte che in altre, epoche, cioe, in cui il confine concettuale fra storiografia e letteratura ha assunto la funzione di una linea che non divide o separa con tratto netto ma che, in modo piu sfumato, distingue o perfino unisce.
Within a vision that theory always has action inherent in its formulation and that action is inherently driven by an idea, there is a metaphorical painting away of their distinctions, as if by some epistemological sfumato technique their distinctions faintly blur into one another in a seamless transition.
The award encourages museums to commission new work and pounds 60,000 is donated to the winner by the Sfumato Foundation.
The aim of the award is to support museums to commission new work through a donation of pounds 60,000 by the Sfumato Foundation to the winning museum, that, once completed, will remain as a permanent collection.
Untitled by Josef Nag, Electra by Istarsko narodno kazaliste, Winter Tale produced by the Sfumato Theater of Sofia and The Marriage of Figaro, a production of the Macedonian National Theater, were also performed.
The details of how the sfumato technique worked had not been determined before.