Definition of pentimento in English:



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

    ‘scientific examination of his drawings has revealed pentimenti’
    [mass noun] ‘is it chiaroscuro or pentimento?’
    • ‘He made an effort to tone down the swagger yet allowed pentimenti on the canvas to draw even more attention to his beard.’
    • ‘His surfaces are extravagantly scumbled and full of ragged pentimenti; the boats look like they are embedded in the water rather than floating on it.’
    • ‘She does not follow the design by rote, as revealed by the pentimenti of alterations made during the painting process.’
    • ‘In fact, drawing is prominent in the paintings, whether jerkily outlining colored patches or visible as the pentimenti of earlier, barely erased marks.’
    • ‘Ghost images from the backs of the canvases pop up like pentimenti or nebular dust.’
    • ‘The way that they narrow and bulge, and the smudges of pale blue pentimenti in the lemon yellow ground, create a circuitous momentum within the work.’
    • ‘The rapid delineation of muscles and sinews, the visible pentimenti and the variable thickness of the chalk lines indicate a purposeful exploration of the physical possibilities of the medium in accurately depicting the human body.’
    • ‘The pentimenti, the multiple corrections, are evidence that an image which appears spontaneous was achieved via a series of minor and major adjustments.’
    • ‘The slightly blurred images reveal her intentionally rough-hewn pentimenti and, ultimately, create a softened, classicized balance.’
    • ‘The astonishing series of pentimenti which were revealed made me change my mind entirely.’
    • ‘Hence the importance in these works of traces of successive compositional stages, pentimenti deliberately retained rather than obliterated in a final synthesis.’
    • ‘For the careful observer, they offer a whole world of pentimenti.’
    • ‘The drawing measures 36.8 x 41.3 cm and is executed in pen and ink over black chalk, with some additions in brush and wash, and with one pentimento executed onto a separate piece of paper, which has been glued to the principal folio.’
    • ‘He acknowledged the existence of pentimenti.’
    • ‘Some pentimenti are also evident in the underdrawn outlines.’
    • ‘Their imagery of the painter's canvas implies an alternative, that of pentimento, or the eventual emergence of an underlying image in a painting that grows transparent with age.’
    • ‘Technical investigations often reveal pentimento - a painting beneath another one - adding further grist to the academic mill.’
    • ‘The myth becomes a dim pentimento, looming under a series of visuals painted one over the other.’
    • ‘There are panels explaining pentimenti and underpainting, why paintings look the way they do, all using actual objects from the collection.’
    • ‘The way I'm painting now has a connection with an Italian expression, pentimento, which means ‘ghost image.’’


Early 20th century: from Italian, literally repentance.