relief, in sculpture, three-dimensional projection from a flat background. In alto-relievo, or high relief, the protrusion is great; basso-relievo, or bas-relief, protrudes only slightly; and mezzo-relievo is intermediate between the two. Ancient Egyptians and Etruscans also used cavo relievo, intaglio , or sunken relief, in which the design is incised deeper than the background. High relief, although also used in ancient times, reached its climax in the baroque period. Bas-relief is commonly employed on coins and on medals.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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