All Words > Pentimento

illustration Pentimento



Part of speech: Noun

Origin: Italian, 19th century


A visible trace of earlier painting beneath a layer or layers of paint on a canvas.

Examples of Pentimento in a sentence

"Beneath the image of the bull in the center of the painting, there was a pentimento of a ship’s mast."

"Robyn left a pentimento of the image he had painted over peeking out from beneath his painting."

About Pentimento

The Italian “pentimento” means “to repent,” or make a correction or update. In English, it describes the visible memory of a previous image beneath a more recent painting as an artifact of artistic correction or updating to the previous work of art.

Did you Know?

Often a pentimento (“pentimenti” is the plural form) is the product of correction in a painting. In some cases, a painting may be entirely painted over with a new work, leaving behind the ghost of the original image as a pentimento. However, often pentimenti reveal aspects of the artist’s process, as they would paint over different iterations of the work. Works by most of the great masters rarely contain these remnants, but Caravaggio and Rembrandt tended to paint more experimentally, with less prior planning. They more frequently made changes on canvas as they worked, sometimes leaving pentimenti.

illustration Pentimento

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