Masterpiece (or chef d'œuvre) in modern usage refers to a creation that has been given much critical praise, especially one that is considered the greatest work of a person's career or to a work of outstanding creativity, skill or workmanship.
Originally, the term masterpiece referred to a piece of work produced by an apprentice or journeyman aspiring to become a master craftsman in the old European guild system. His fitness to qualify for guild membership was judged partially by the Masterpiece, and if he was successful, it was retained by the guild. Great care was therefore taken to produce a fine piece in whatever the craft was, whether confectionery, painting, goldsmithing, knifemaking, or many other trades. The Royal Academy in London is one institution that has acquired a fine collection of "Diploma works" as a condition of acceptance.
Originally the paper which a student needs to present in order to gain the degree of Master of Arts was also such a "Masterpiece" - i.e. a fine piece of scholarship, the particular craft in which the student sought to be admitted as a master craftsman.
The term probably derives from the Dutch "meesterstuk" (German: Meisterstück), and the form "masterstik" is recorded in English in 1579 (or in Scots, since this was from some Aberdeen guild regulations), whereas "masterpiece" is first found in 1605, already outside a guild context, in a Ben Jonson play.
Examples include: Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa, Pablo Picasso's Guernica, Michelangelo's David, Ludwig van Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Don Giovanni, William Shakespeare's Hamlet, The Odyssey of Homer, Luís de Camões Os Lusíadas, Geoffrey Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales", Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy and John Milton's Paradise Lost.
- Magnum opus
- Painting the Century 101 Portrait Masterpieces 1900-2000
- The Virtual Collection of Masterpieces
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Masterpiece — Mas ter*piece , n. Anything done or made with extraordinary skill; a capital performance; a chef d [oe]uvre; a supreme achievement. [1913 Webster] The top and masterpiece of art. South. [1913 Webster] Dissimulation was his masterpiece. Claredon.… … The Collaborative International Dictionary of English
Masterpiece — «Masterpiece» песня Мадонны. Первоначально была записана как саундтрек для фильма W.E. в 2012 году. Позже песня была включена в двенадцатый студийный альбом Мадонны под название MDNA. 3 апреля 2012 года песня была исполнена на радио в… … Википедия
masterpiece — (n.) c.1600, from MASTER (Cf. master) (n.) + PIECE (Cf. piece) (n.). A loan translation of Du. meesterstuk work by which a craftsman attains the rank of master (or its German cognate Meisterstück) … Etymology dictionary
masterpiece — [n] respected work of art chef d’oeuvre, classic, cream*, cream of the crop*, flower, gem*, jewel*, magnum opus, masterstroke, master work, model, monument, perfection, pièce de résistance*, prize, showpiece, standard, tour de force*, treasure;… … New thesaurus
masterpiece — ► NOUN ▪ a work of outstanding skill. ORIGIN originally referring to a piece of work by a craftsman accepted as qualification for membership of a guild as an acknowledged master … English terms dictionary
masterpiece — [mas′tər pēs΄] n. [calque of Ger meisterstück] 1. a thing made or done with masterly skill; great work of art or craftsmanship 2. the greatest work made or done by a person or group … English World dictionary
masterpiece — noun ADJECTIVE ▪ great ▪ It s one of the greatest masterpieces of Western art. ▪ acknowledged ▪ The piece ranks with such acknowledged masterpieces as the Mass in G. ▪ minor … Collocations dictionary
masterpiece — [[t]mɑ͟ːstə(r)piːs, mæ̱s [/t]] masterpieces 1) N COUNT A masterpiece is an extremely good painting, novel, film, or other work of art. His book, I must add, is a masterpiece. ...masterpieces by artists like Rembrandt, Raphael and Ingres. 2) N… … English dictionary