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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 ?
Like almost everyone who has written about it, Isaacson is reverential towards the Mona Lisa, though not as much as Walter Pater ("hers is the head upon which all the ends of the world are come") and not without using it to underline one of his main themes - Leonardo's sfumato technique, whereby lines are blurred and boundaries (like those between art and science) disappear.
En el coro de angeles celestiales y el nimbo de querubines que la coronan, se aprecia el sfumato y la tenue pincelada de Murillo.
Isaacson also elaborates on Leonardo's innovative approaches to painting, such as sfumato, the shading of edges through shadow rather than lines.
30 The Beckhampton trainer has his string in cracking form and it is worth taking a chance on Sfumato adding to the stable's recent victories at a track where Charlton has enjoyed plenty of success.
Roger Charlton could not have any complaints that Sfumato was only raised by 4lb after winning at Lingfield last time out.
He has spoken of his method as a precarious struggle to capture a fleeting colour, to trap it using geometry and then to break that geometry so that it dissolves, like smoke (one thinks of Leonardo's sfumato technique).
Il tutto ha una suggestione confrontabile con quella che si ha guardando una costa lontana dal mare prima di entrare in un porto, quando tutto e appiattito e sfumato, tra case, fabbriche e colline.
A minority investment by Kering in 2013 helped fuel the addition of a handbag line that includes a mix of casually structured shapes in everything from smooth calf to Sfumato leather to luxurious crocodile.
Revealing the sfumato Technique of Leonardo da Vinci by X-Ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy.
Learning music under a perfectionist like Bron, however, is like learning painting from Rembrandt and discovering new pigments, or a sfumato technique that draws in the viewers.