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Definition of "painterly" [paint•er•ly]

  • Of, relating to, or characteristic of a painter; artistic. (adjective)
  • Having qualities unique to the art of painting. (adjective)
  • Of, relating to, or being a style of painting marked by openness of form, with shapes distinguished by variations of color rather than by outline or contour. (adjective)

American Heritage(R) Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright (c) 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Use "painterly" in a sentence
  • "But now rehabilitation is complete and we see Sargent as an exultant master of characterisation and empathy, of colour and light, of shadow and the contre-jour effect (the subject seen against the light), and of the fat substantial paint to which the word painterly properly belongs."
  • "Although Allard is considered a documentary photographer, this is an example of what photo critics would call "painterly" - a word usually reserved for fine art, not necessarily photojournalism."
  • "Hals makes his loose, gestural approach, termed "painterly" by the Swiss-German art historian Heinrich Wölfflin, look so effortless that it is often assumed that he worked quickly, making what would now be called "one shot" paintings; in fact, he built up his vibrant images with traditional layering techniques, trusting—just as Rubens, his near-contemporary and fellow master of the painterly, did—that his last flourishes would bring the result to vivid life."