Sfumato (which may be italicized in English, or not) is one of the four canonical painting modes of the Renaissance (the other three being Cangiante, Chiaroscuro, and Unione). Sfumato comes from the Italian "sfumare", “to tone down” or “to evaporate like smoke”.
The most prominent practitioner of sfumato was Leonardo da Vinci, and his famous painting of the Mona Lisa exhibits the technique. Leonardo da Vinci described sfumato as "without lines or borders, in the manner of smoke or beyond the focus plane."
- Leonardo da Vinci: anatomical drawings from the Royal Library, Windsor Castle, exhibition catalog fully online as PDF from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which contains material on this technique (see index)
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