One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Chiefly in painting: a depiction of subject matter considered insignificant or trivial, as still life, the domestic interior, animals, etc.
Mid 19th century. From German Rhopographie from Hellenistic Greek ῥωπογραϕία (apparently only recorded as a Greek word in the classical Latin author Cicero), probably from Byzantine Greek ῥωπογράϕος artist who paints petty subjects, such as still life, although this is apparently first attested later + -ία; compare -graphy.
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