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A blue-tinted painting of a man's bent neck, with a faint image of a woman's face in its background
In this detail from Pablo Picasso’s The Old Guitarist (1903–1904), a pentimento in the form of a woman’s face can faintly be seen in the bend of the guitarist’s neck.

Learned borrowing from Italian pentimento (repentance, penance, penitence; remorse; change of opinion; correction; traces of a previous image or work in an artwork), from pentìrsi (to repent; to regret) + -mento (suffix forming nouns representing the actions of verbs to which it is attached). Pentìrsi is derived from Latin paenitēre,[1] the present active infinitive of paeniteō (to cause to repent; to repent; to be sorry, regret), from Proto-Indo-European *peh₁- (to hate; to hurt).

The plural form is also borrowed from Italian pentimenti.



pentimento (plural pentimenti)

  1. (art, literature) The presence of traces of a previous work in an artistic or literary work; especially (painting) an image which has been painted over but is still detectable.
    Synonym: pentiment
    • 2012, Lorraine T. Gilman, chapter 20, in Princeton Pentimento, Bloomington, Ind.: WestBow Press, Thomas Nelson, →ISBN, page 205:
      She thought of the painting in the shop, the pentimento. Her life, the one she had so carefully planned for herself had crumbled like the paint on the surface.
    • 2019, Timothy J. Benoy, William A. Edwards, Howell G. M. Edwards, “Evidence of Pentimenti for the Authentication of Paintings: A Challenge for Analytical Science at the Interface with Art History”, in Peter Vandenabeele, Howell Edwards, editors, Raman Spectroscopy in Archaeology and Art History, volume 2, London: Royal Society of Chemistry, →ISBN, page 33:
      [T]he presence of a pentimento is an extremely valuable entity which supports the conclusion that a painting is an original composition – so, by inference, therefore, refuting any later suggestion that the painting could be the work of a copyist, who would have been engaged upon copying an existing painting as seen! The identification of a pentimento in an artwork can occur in one of two ways: by analytical interrogation of the subsurface using penetrative radiation such as IRR or XRD, or by direct visual observation, where the overlaying paint has worn away []

Derived terms[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ pentimento, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, March 2022; “pentimento, n.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.

Further reading[edit]



From pentirsi (to repent, regret) +‎ -mento.


  • IPA(key): /pen.tiˈ
  • Rhymes: -ento
  • Hyphenation: pen‧ti‧mén‧to


pentimento m (plural pentimenti)

  1. penitence, penance, repentance
  2. remorse
    Synonyms: rammarico, rimpianto, rincrescimento
  3. (art, literature) a change between the old sketch/stub of a work from its final form
    Synonyms: cambiamento, rifacimento
    un'opera eseguita senza pentimentia work executed without changes (from the sketch/stub)


  • English: pentimento (learned)

Further reading[edit]

  • pentimento in – Vocabolario Treccani on line, Istituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana