A French word which refers to the act of pushing something back. The purpose of Repoussoir is that of creating perspective or spatial contrasts by the use of illusions. E.g. a large element in the immediate foreground of a painting may increase the illusion of depth in the rest of the picture. In addition, this compositional tactic often help frame a motif. so that the devices in the foreground become a sort of wondiw frame that leads the eye deeper into the painting.

An artist considered a master of repoussoir was Caravaggio. Later Repoussoir figures appeared in Dutch figure painting, where they established the type of spatial depth so characteristic of seventeenth-century painting.

Gustave Caillebotte’s Paris Street; Rainy Day from 1877 is considered a textbook example as is many works by the Danish painter L.A. Ring.