[bah-ri-leef, bas-; bah-ri-leef, bas-]


relief sculpture in which the figures project slightly from the background.

Origin of bas-relief

1660–70; < French, on the model of Italian bassorilievo. Cf. basso-relievo, base2, relief2
Also called low relief. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for bas-relief

Historical Examples of bas-relief

  • It is highly probable that we have, in the bas-relief, a representation of the city of Susa or Shusan.

  • We have already seen in the bas-relief of the Madonna and Child how thoughtful a mood was sometimes upon the mother and her boy.


    Estelle M. Hurll

  • In Carlslunde church tower there is a bas-relief of a lamb, to show that a living lamb was buried there when the church was built.

    A Danish Parsonage

    John Fulford Vicary

  • The saint lies sleeping with her little dog at her feet; in a bas-relief she yields her soul to angels, who bear it to Heaven.

    Pictures in Umbria

    Katharine S. (Katharine Sarah) Macquoid

  • It would seem like a bas-relief cut out of marble were it not for its wonderful colouring.

British Dictionary definitions for bas-relief



sculpture in low relief, in which the forms project slightly from the background but no part is completely detached from itAlso called (Italian): basso rilievo

Word Origin for bas-relief

C17: from French, from Italian basso rilievo low relief; see base ², relief
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for bas-relief

1660s, from French bas-relief, a loan-translation of Italian basso-rilievo "low relief, raised work."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Culture definitions for bas-relief


[(bah ruh-leef)]

A kind of carving or sculpture in which the figures are raised a few inches from a flat background to give a three-dimensional effect. The term is French for “low relief.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.