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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