rrelief sculpture - A type of sculpture in which form projects from a background.

There are three degrees or types of relief: high, low, and sunken. In high relief, the forms stand far out from the background. In low relief (best known as bas-relief), they are shallow. In sunken relief, also called hollow or intaglio; the backgrounds are not cut back and the points in highest relief are level with the original surface of the material being carved.

The term sculpto-painting was first used to describe works by Alexander Archipenko (1887-1964), Ukrainian-born Modernist sculptor, who lived and worked in France and the USA. Sculpto-painting was an invention of his World War I years in Nice (1914-1918). The first ones were "polychromed bronzes that combine the properties of painting and relief sculpture like Espanola (Still Life with Head), 1916, a Cubist arrangement of elements carefully patinated in shades of green," said Grace Glueck (contemporary), American art critic, New York Times, April 14, 2005, p. B7.

Examples of relief:


see thumbnail to leftAssyria, Stone Relief, alabaster, 130 x 73 cm, Near-Eastern Museum, Berlin.



see thumbnail to rightBabylonia, Walking Lion and the Ishtar-Gate of Babylon, glazed brick reliefs, 6th century BCE, Near-Eastern Museum, Berlin.




see thumbnail to leftGreece, Grave stele of a little girl with doves, c. 450-440 BCE, Parian marble relief, height 31 1/2 inches (80 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. See Greek art.



see thumbnail to rightGreece, Athens, c. 400 BCE, Grave Stele, marble, 40.4 x 17 x 6 inches (102.5 x 43.25 x 15.25 cm), J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, CA. See stele.




see thumbnail to rightThrace, Tetradrachm of Lysimachos, 323-281 BCE, silver. See numismatics.



Vecchietta (Lorenzo di Piero di Giovanni) (Italian, 1410-1480), The Resurrection, 1472, bronze, height 21 3/8 inches (54.3 cm), width 16 1/4 inches (41.2 cm), Frick Collection, NY. Inscribed on the center panel of the sarcophagus: OPUS.LAUR / ENTII.PETRI.P / ITTORIS.AL / VECHIETTA. / DE ENIS.M. / CCCC.LXXII



Michelangelo Buonarroti (Italian, 1475-1564), The Battle of Lapiths and Centaurs (Centauromachia), 1491-92, marble, 33 1/4 x 35 5/8 inches (84.5 x 90.5 cm), Casa Buonarroti, Florence. See Renaissance.



Alessandro Algardi (Italian, 1598-1654), Pietà, 1630-40, octagonal bronze relief (a rectangular frame conceals corners), excluding flange: 11 3/4 x 11 3/4 inches (29.8 x 29.8 cm), Frick Collection, NY. See Pietà.



Paul Gauguin (French, 1848-1903), Forest of the House of Joy, 1902, bas-relief, paint on sequoia wood, Musée d'Orsay, Paris.



Augustus Saint-Gaudens (American, 1848-1907), Amor Caritas, 1880-98, this cast 1918, gilded-bronze relief, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.



Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Samuel G. Ward, 1881, bronze, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.





see thumbnail to leftAugustus Saint-Gaudens, Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Regiment Memorial, 1897-1900, high relief in patinated plaster, National Gallery, Washington, DC. The subject of this sculpture is also that of the movie Glory [link to a still from the movie] (Edward Zwick, 1989).



Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954), Back III, 1916-1917, bas-relief in bronze, 185 x 111.5 x 22.5 cm, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.


see thumbnail to rightPablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973), Still Life, 1914, painted wood and upholstery fringe, relief, 25.4 x 45.7 x 9.2 cm, Tate Gallery, London.



see thumbnail to leftBen Nicholson, OM (English, 1894-1982), 1934 (relief), 1934, oil on wood, relief, 71.8 x 96.5 x 3.2 cm, Tate Gallery, London.




see thumbnail to rightCharles Biederman (American, 1906-2004), Structurist Relief, Red Wing No. 20, 1954-65, oil on metal, 104.8 x 14.9 cm, Tate Gallery, London. See geometric and Structurist.




see thumbnail to leftMary Martin (English, 1907-1969), Black Relief, 1957-c. 1966, painted wood, board and plastic relief, 76.4 x 114.0 x 14.8 cm, Tate Gallery, London. See feminism and feminist art.




see thumbnail to rightRoy Lichtenstein (American, 1923-1997), Wall Explosion II, 1965, enamel on steel relief, 170.2 x 188.0 x 10.2 cm, 110 kg, Tate Gallery, London. Lichtenstein's cartoon-style explosion displays a type of balance called radial symmetry. See benday and Pop Art.




see thumbnail to leftMark Boyle (English, 1934-), Holland Park Avenue Study, 1967, relief, 238.8 x 238.8 x 11.4 cm, Tate Gallery, London.



Charles Ray (American, contemporary), Bath, 1989, porcelain bathtub, brass, aluminum and water, 60 x 29 1/2 x 21 inches, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.





To see more easily accessible examples of relief, just look at the coins in your pocket or purse!



Also see bas-relief, dent, frieze, grisaille, high relief, intaglio, medal, misericord, numismatics, plaque, repoussé, Romanesque, shadow, and tympanum.





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