Relief

bas-reliefbas reliefbas-reliefshigh reliefreliefsrelief sculpturelow reliefbas reliefshigh-relieflow-relief
Relief is a sculptural technique where the sculpted elements remain attached to a solid background of the same material.wikipedia
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Rock relief

rock reliefsinto rock facesrock-cut bas-reliefs
Rock reliefs are those carved into solid rock in the open air (if inside caves, whether natural or man-made, they are more likely to be called "rock-cut").
A rock relief or rock-cut relief is a relief sculpture carved on solid or "living rock" such as a cliff, rather than a detached piece of stone.

Relief carving

reliefcarved relievescarved wooden relief
What is actually performed when a relief is cut in from a flat surface of stone (relief sculpture) or wood (relief carving) is a lowering of the field, leaving the unsculpted parts seemingly raised.
Relief carving is a type of wood carving in which figures are carved in a flat panel of wood.

Stucco

renderedrenderstuccoed
In other materials such as metal, clay, plaster stucco, ceramics or papier-mâché the form can be just added to or raised up from the background, and monumental bronze reliefs are made by casting.
This has led to English-speakers sometimes using "stucco" for interior decorative plasterwork in relief.

Stele

stelastelaestone tablet
A stele is a single standing stone; many of these carry reliefs.
The ornamentation may be inscribed, carved in relief, or painted.

Islamic art

IslamicartArabic
The subject of reliefs is for convenient reference assumed in this article to be usually figures, but sculpture in relief often depicts decorative geometrical or foliage patterns, as in the arabesques of Islamic art, and may be of any subject.
Large inscriptions made from tiles, sometimes with the letters raised in relief, or the background cut away, are found on the interiors and exteriors of many important buildings.

Monumental sculpture

monumentalcultural symbolLarge, free-standing sculpture
The opposite of relief sculpture is counter-relief, intaglio, or cavo-rilievo, where the form is cut into the field or background rather than rising from it; this is very rare in monumental sculpture.
Monumental sculpture is therefore distinguished from small portable figurines, small metal or ivory reliefs, diptychs and the like.

Assyrian sculpture

Assyrian palace reliefsAssyrian artAssyrian relief
In the art of Ancient Egypt, Assyrian palace reliefs, and other ancient Near Eastern and Asian cultures, and also Meso-America, a consistent very low relief was commonly used for the whole composition.
The palace reliefs contain scenes in low relief which glorify the king, showing him at war, hunting, and fulfilling other kingly roles.

Altarpiece

altar-piecealtarpiecesaltar piece
Low relief was relatively rare in Western medieval art, but may be found, for example in wooden figures or scenes on the insides of the folding wings of multi-panel altarpieces.
An altarpiece is an artwork such as a painting, sculpture or relief representing a religious subject made for placing behind the altar of a Christian church.

Ishtar Gate

Gateway of the Temple of IshtarIštar gatePanel: striding lion
The Ishtar Gate of Babylon, now in Berlin, has low reliefs of large animals formed from moulded bricks, glazed in colour.
The walls were finished in glazed bricks mostly in blue, with animals and deities in low relief at intervals, these also made up of bricks that are molded and colored differently.

Ancient Egypt

EgyptEgyptianAncient Egyptian
There is also sunk relief, which was mainly restricted to Ancient Egypt (see below).
The relief and portrait sculpture of the period captured subtle, individual details that reached new heights of technical sophistication.

Arabesque

arabesquesArabesque (European art)abstract floral
The subject of reliefs is for convenient reference assumed in this article to be usually figures, but sculpture in relief often depicts decorative geometrical or foliage patterns, as in the arabesques of Islamic art, and may be of any subject.
The relatively abundant survivals of stucco reliefs from the walls of palaces (but not mosques) in Abbasid Samarra, the Islamic capital between 836 and 892, provide examples of three styles, Styles A, B, and C, though more than one of these may appear on the same wall, and their chronological sequence is not certain.

Medieval art

medievalmedieval paintingMiddle Ages
Low relief was relatively rare in Western medieval art, but may be found, for example in wooden figures or scenes on the insides of the folding wings of multi-panel altarpieces.
Most luxury illuminated manuscripts of the Early Middle Ages had lavish treasure binding book-covers in precious metal, ivory and jewels; the re-bound pages and ivory reliefs for the covers have survived in far greater numbers than complete covers, which have mostly been stripped off for their valuable materials at some point.

Donatello

Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi(DonatelloAr
It is often used for the background areas of compositions with the main elements in low-relief, but its use over a whole (usually rather small) piece was perfected by the Italian Renaissance sculptor Donatello.
Though his best-known works were mostly statues in the round, he developed a new, very shallow, type of bas-relief for small works, and a good deal of his output was larger architectural reliefs.

Art of ancient Egypt

Ancient Egyptian artEgyptian artEgyptian
In the art of Ancient Egypt, Assyrian palace reliefs, and other ancient Near Eastern and Asian cultures, and also Meso-America, a consistent very low relief was commonly used for the whole composition.
As the new religion was a monotheistic worship of the sun, sacrifices and worship were apparently conducted in open courtyards, and sunk relief decoration was widely used in these.

Art Deco

art-decoArt DécoArt Deco architecture
Large architectural compositions all in low relief saw a revival in the 20th century, being popular on buildings in Art Deco and related styles, which borrowed from the ancient low reliefs now available in museums.
The decor of the theater was also revolutionary; the facade was decorated with high reliefs by Antoine Bourdelle, a dome by Maurice Denis, paintings by Édouard Vuillard, and an Art Deco curtain by Ker-Xavier Roussel.

Ancient Greek sculpture

Greek sculptureGreeksculpture
Most of the many grand figure reliefs in Ancient Greek sculpture used a very "high" version of high relief, with elements often fully free of the background, and parts of figures crossing over each other to indicate depth.
The statue, originally single but by the Hellenistic period often in groups was the dominant form, though reliefs, often so "high" that they were almost free-standing, were also important.

Angkor Wat

Angkor VatAngkorAngkor Wat Temple
Other examples are low reliefs narrating the Ramayana Hindu epic in Prambanan temple, also in Java, in Cambodia, the temples of Angkor, with scenes including the Samudra manthan or "Churning the Ocean of Milk" at the 12th-century Angkor Wat, and reliefs of apsaras.
The temple is admired for the grandeur and harmony of the architecture, its extensive bas-reliefs, and for the numerous devatas adorning its walls.

Bayon

Bayon TempleBàyonthe Bayon
At Bayon temple in Angkor Thom there are scenes of daily life in the Khmer Empire.
The temple has two sets of bas-reliefs, which present a combination of mythological, historical, and mundane scenes.

Engraved gem

intaglioengraved gemsintaglios
The opposite of relief sculpture is counter-relief, intaglio, or cavo-rilievo, where the form is cut into the field or background rather than rising from it; this is very rare in monumental sculpture. Sunk relief technique is not to be confused with "counter-relief" or intaglio as seen on engraved gem seals—where an image is fully modeled in a "negative" manner.
Strictly speaking, engraving means carving in intaglio (with the design cut into the flat background of the stone), but relief carvings (with the design projecting out of the background as in nearly all cameos) are also covered by the term.

Seal (emblem)

sealsealssignet ring
Sunk relief technique is not to be confused with "counter-relief" or intaglio as seen on engraved gem seals—where an image is fully modeled in a "negative" manner.
In most traditional forms of dry seal the design on the seal matrix is in intaglio (cut below the flat surface) and therefore the design on the impressions made is in relief (raised above the surface).

Funerary art

funerary monumenttomb monumentfunerary
Very high relief re-emerged in the Renaissance, and was especially used in wall-mounted funerary art and later on Neoclassical pediments and public monuments.
The walls of important tomb-chambers and offering chambers were heavily decorated with reliefs in stone or sometimes wood, or paintings, depicting religious scenes, portraits of the deceased, and at some periods vivid images of everyday life, depicting the afterlife.

Angkor

Angkor templesAngkor civilizationAngkor Kingdom
Other examples are low reliefs narrating the Ramayana Hindu epic in Prambanan temple, also in Java, in Cambodia, the temples of Angkor, with scenes including the Samudra manthan or "Churning the Ocean of Milk" at the 12th-century Angkor Wat, and reliefs of apsaras.
Suryavarman had the walls of the temple decorated with bas reliefs depicting not only scenes from mythology, but also from the life of his own imperial court.

Plaquette

plaqueplaques
Small bronze reliefs are often in the form of "plaques" or plaquettes, which may be set in furniture or framed, or just kept as they are, a popular form for European collectors, especially in the Renaissance.
A plaquette (, small plaque) is a small low relief sculpture in bronze or other materials.

Cameo (carving)

cameocameoscameo brooch
However many engraved gems were carved in cameo or normal relief.
It nearly always features a raised (positive) relief image; contrast with intaglio, which has a negative image.

Eric Gill

Eric '''Gill''' (sculpture)
Some sculptors, including Eric Gill, have adopted the "squashed" depth of low relief in works that are actually free-standing.
He carved a stone bas-relief of the meeting of Asia and Africa above the front entrance together with ten stone reliefs illustrating different cultures and a gargoyle fountain in the inner courtyard.