Art Quiz: The Answer is Contrapposto

You probably knew this one, I’m sure. Yes, the answer is contrapposto, and here’s a quick definition:

Contrapposto is an Italian term that means “counterpoise”. It is used in the visual arts to describe a human figure standing with most of its weight on one foot, so that its shoulders and arms twist off-axis from the hips and legs in the axial plane. — From Wikipedia

Also from Wikipedia is this information on why contrapposto was significant in art:

Contrapposto was historically an important sculptural development, for its appearance marks the first time in Western art that the human body is used to express a more relaxed psychological disposition. This gives the figure a more dynamic, or alternatively relaxed appearance.

Actually, contrapposto — although an Italian word — comes to us from the Greek and was used as early as the 5th century. If you’re curious, you might enjoy this video which explains contrapposto.

And you’ll find additional information on what is and what isn’t contrapposto here: Understanding Contrapposto.

I was familiar with the pose for standing figures, but I hadn’t realized that contrapposto can also be applied to seated figures, so I learned something new today. Here, as an example is Seated Figure in Contrapposto by Giuseppe Cades:


I hope you’ve enjoy today’s “Art Quiz” feature. Be watching for more upcoming questions and answers.


    1. I never realized “contrapposto” could apply to seated figures, so I learned something too! I’ve been doing a bit of gesture drawing again and actually having fun with it.

      Liked by 1 person

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