Definition of contrapposto in US English:



  • An asymmetrical arrangement of the human figure in which the line of the arms and shoulders contrasts with, while balancing, those of the hips and legs.

    • ‘He makes a mockery of David's magnificent contrapposto.’
    • ‘Mouths open, not yet inured to the sight, many adopt the famous sculpture's contrapposto.’
    • ‘The figure is artfully foreshortened, engaging in a sweeping contrapposto to provide a virtuoso ‘frame’ for the sudarium, the origin of all cult images, made without human hands from the face of Christ.’
    • ‘Dosso stages Saint George in a poised contrapposto as he stands triumphant over the dragon, who exhales his final puffs of smoke.’
    • ‘The preferred figure type was more mature and monumental, with contrapposto being used to give movement to the large, solid figures.’


Italian, past participle of contrapporre, from Latin contraponere ‘place against’.