a. In Painting. orig. The maintenance of the proper relation between the representations of nearer and more distant objects in a picture; hence, in more general sense, "the proper subserviency of tone and colour in every part of a picture, so that the general effect is harmonious to the eye" (Fairholt); the maintenance of harmony of composition.
b. generally. Agreement, congruity, harmony.
- 1715 J. Richardson The. Painting 224 The Composition is not to be justifyed . . . the Groups are too Regularly placed, and without any Keeping in the Whole, that is, they appear too near of an Equal Strength.
- 1762 Goldsm. Cit. W. lv, [Parodying art slang] `What do you think, sir, of that head in the corner, done in the manner of Grisoni? There's the true keeping in it.
- 1768 W. Gilpin Upon Prints 20 Keeping then proportions a proper degree of strength to the near and distant parts, in respect to each other.
- 1780 Johnson Let. to Mrs. Thrale 1 May, There is contour, and keeping, and grace, and expression, and all the varieties of artificial excellence.
- 1792 Resid. France (1797) I. 87 Some mixture of splendour and clumsiness, and a want of what the painters call keeping.
- 1809 Mar. Edgeworth Absentee x, In Lady Clonbrony's mind, as in some bad paintings, there was no keeping; all objects, great and small, were upon the same level.
- 1859 Gullick & Timbs Paint. 172 The keeping and repose in this cartoon are inimitable.
c. Phr. IN OR OUT OF KEEPING WITH -- in or out of keeping (within) or out of keeping (with): in or out of harmony or agreement (with).
- 1819 Hazlitt Eng. Com. Writers vi. (1869) 153 There is the exquisite keeping in the character of Blifil, and the want of it in that of Tom Jones.
- 1870 Lowell Study Wind. 406 For wit, fancy, invention, and keeping, it [the Rape of the Lock] has never been surpassed.
- C. 1790 Imison Sch. Art II. 59 In what respect it is out of keeping; that is, what parts are too light, and what too dark.
- 1806 F. Horner Let. in Life vii. (1849) 175 They were so in keeping with the whole that the prevailing tone was..never interrupted.
- 1824 Miss Ferrier Inher. xlvii, To use an artist phrase, nothing could be more in keeping with the day than the reception Miss S. met with.
- 1830 Blackw. Mag. XXVII. 310 It is in `fine keeping', as the phrase is.
- 1841 Lever C. O'Malley iv. 24 His own costume of black coat, leathers and tops, was in perfect keeping.
- 1841 Myers Cath. Th. iii. v. 14 Such an utterance of Truth would . . . be out of keeping with our present condition in the flesh.
- 1878 Bosw. Smith Carthage 26 Indications . . . in thorough keeping with the view we have taken.