A tondo (plural “tondi” or “tondos”) is a Renaissance term for a circular work of art, deriving from the Italian word rotondo, “round.” The term is not usually used in English for small round paintings, but only those over about two feet in diameter, thus excluding many round portrait miniatures.
Artists have created tondi since Greek antiquity. The circular paintings in the centre of painted vases of that period are known as tondi, and the inside of the broad low winecup called a kylix also lent itself to circular enframed compositions.
The style was revived in in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, particularly in Italy with the tondo becoming an especially fashionable trend in 15th century Florence, with Botticelli painting many examples, both Madonnas and narrative scenes. Michelangelo employed the circular tondo for several compositions, both painted and sculpted, as did Raphael.
The tondo has also been used as a design element in architecture since the Renaissance; it may serve centered in the gable-end of a pediment or under the round-headed arch that was revived in the fifteenth century.