Definition of sgraffito in English:


nounPlural sgraffiti

mass noun
  • A form of decoration made by scratching through a surface to reveal a lower layer of a contrasting colour, typically done in plaster or stucco on walls, or in slip on ceramics before firing.

    • ‘He, too, has worked very large and with heroic, mythic narratives, but once again, seems to take an ironical stance toward monumentality by his use of magnified sgraffito and scrawled imagery.’
    • ‘In tempera painting the most spectacular technique to combine gilding and paint is that of sgraffito, most often used to depict cloth of gold.’
    • ‘It occupies the entire 6-foot-high composition, with ink spatters, sgraffito and handprints enlivening the surface.’
    • ‘Façades were further decorated with virtuoso sgraffiti, the top layer of plaster etched away to reveal a contrasting colour beneath.’
    • ‘Here the last vestiges of the figurative, a few delicately poised hands, flowers and shells, are subsumed into patterned and highly coloured surfaces of glazes, scumbles, impasto, sgraffito, stipples, dots and splodges of paint.’


Mid 18th century: Italian, literally ‘scratched away’, past participle of sgraffiare.