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In Parmigianino's Madonna with the Long Neck (1534-40), Mannerism makes itself
known by elongated proportions, affected poses, and unclear perspective.

Mannerism is a period of European painting, sculpture, architecture and decorative arts

lasting from the later years of the Italian High Renaissance around 1520 until the arrival
of the Baroque around 1600. Stylistically, it identifies a variety of individual approaches
influenced by, and reacting to, the harmonious ideals associated with Leonardo da Vinci,
Raphael, and early Michelangelo. Mannerism is notable for its intellectual as well as its
artificial (as opposed to naturalistic) qualities.

The term is also applied to some Late Gothic painters working in northern Europe from
about 1500 to 1530, especially the Antwerp Mannerists and some currents of
seventeenth-century literature, especially poetry.


• 1 Nomenclature
o 1.1 Anti-Classical
o 1.2 Maniera
o 1.3 Mannerisms
• 2 History
o 2.1 Giorgio Vasari
o 2.2 Gian Paolo Lomazzo
• 3 Some mannerist examples
o 3.1 Jacopo da Pontormo
o 3.2 Rosso Fiorentino
o 3.3 School of Fontainebleau
o 3.4 Agnolo Bronzino
o 3.5 Alessandro Allori
o 3.6 Jacopo Tintoretto
o 3.7 El Greco
o 3.8 Benvenuto Cellini
• 4 Mannerist architecture
• 5 Mannerism in literature and music
• 6 Notes

• 7 Further reading

[edit] Nomenclature
The word derives from the Italian maniera, or "style," which corresponds to an artist's
characteristic "touch" or recognizable "manner". Artificiality, as opposed to Renaissance
and Baroque naturalism, provides one of the common features of mannerist art. The
lasting influence of the Italian Renaissance, as transformed by succeeding generations of
artists, is another.

As a stylistic label, "Mannerism" is not easily pigeonholed. It was first popularized by

German art historians in the early twentieth-century to categorize the seemingly
uncategorizable art of the Italian sixteenth century—art that was no longer perceived to
exhibit the harmonious and rational approaches associated with the High Renaissance.

The term is applied differently to a variety of different artists and styles.

[edit] Anti-Classical

The early Mannerists—especially Jacopo da Pontormo and Rosso Fiorentino in Florence,

Raphael's student in Rome Giulio Romano and Parmigianino in Parma—are notable for
elongated forms, exaggerated, out-of-balance poses, manipulated irrational space, and
unnatural lighting. These artists matured under the influence of the High Renaissance,
and their style has been characterized as a reaction or exaggerated extension of it.
Therefore, this style is often identified as "anti-classical" mannerism.[1]
Late Mannerism: fountain by Giambologna's successor, Pietro Tacca, 1629 (Piazza
Santissima Annunziata, Florence)

[edit] Maniera

Subsequent mannerists stressed intellectual conceits and artistic ability, features that led
early critics to accuse them of working in an unnatural and affected "manner" (maniera).
These artists held their elder contemporary Michelangelo as their prime example. Giorgio
Vasari, as artist and architect, exemplifies this strain of Mannerism lasting from about
1530 to 1580. Based largely at courts and in intellectual circles around Europe, it is often
called the "stylish" style or the Maniera.[2]

[edit] Mannerisms

After 1580 in Italy, a new generation of artists, including the Carracci, Caravaggio and
Cigoli, reemphasized naturalism. Walter Friedlaender identified this period as "anti-
mannerism", just as the early mannerists were "anti-classical" in their reaction to the High
Renaissance.[3] Outside of Italy, however, mannerism continued into the seventeenth
century. Important centers include the court of Rudolf II in Prague, as well as Haarlem
and Antwerp.

Mannerism as a stylistic category is less frequently applied to English visual and

decorative arts, where local categories such as "Elizabethan" and "Jacobean" are more
common. Eighteenth-century Artisan Mannerism is one exception.[4]
Historically regarded, Mannerism is a useful designation for sixteenth-century art that
emphasizes artificiality over naturalism and reflects a growing self-consciousness of the

[edit] History
The early Mannerists are usually set in stark contrast to High Renaissance conventions;
the immediacy and balance achieved by Raphael's School of Athens, no longer seemed
relevant or appropriate. Mannerism developed among the pupils of two masters of the
classical approach, with Raphael's assistant Giulio Romano and among the students of
Andrea del Sarto, whose studio produced the quintessentially Mannerist painters
Pontormo and Rosso Fiorentino. Michelangelo displayed tendencies towards Mannerism,
notably in his vestibule to the Laurentian Library and the figures on his Medici tombs.

Mannerism at the English court: Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, painted in 1546

Mannerist centers in Italy were Rome, Florence and Mantua. Venetian painting, in its
separate "school," pursued a separate course, represented in the long career of Titian.

In the mid to late 1500s Mannerism flourished at European courts, where it appealed to
knowledgeable audiences with its arcane iconographic programs and sense of an artistic
"personality". It reflects a growing trend in which a noticeable purpose of art was to
inspire awe and devotion, and to entertain and educate.
Giorgio Vasari, frontispiece to Lives of the Artists, 1568

[edit] Giorgio Vasari

Giorgio Vasari's opinions about the "art" of creating art come through in his praise of
fellow artists in the great book that lay behind this frontispiece: he believed that
excellence in painting demanded refinement, richness of invention (invenzione),
expressed through virtuoso technique (maniera), and wit and study that appeared in the
finished work, all criteria that emphasized the artist's intellect and the patron's sensibility.
The artist was now no longer just a craftsman member of a local Guild of St Luke. Now
he took his place at court with scholars, poets, and humanists, in a climate that fostered
an appreciation for elegance and complexity. The coat-of-arms of Vasari's Medici patrons
appear at the top of his portrait, quite as if they were the artist's own.

The framing of the engraved frontispiece to Mannerist artist Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the
Artists (illustration, left) would be called "Jacobean" in an English-speaking context. In
it, Michelangelo's Medici tombs inspire the anti-architectural "architectural" features at
the top, the papery pierced frame, the satyr nudes at the base. In the vignette of Florence
at the base, papery or vellum-like material is cut and stretched and scrolled into a
cartouche (cartoccia). The design is self-conscious, overcharged with rich, artificially
"natural" detail in physically improbable juxtapositions of jarring scale changes,
overwhelming as a mere frame: Mannerist.

[edit] Gian Paolo Lomazzo

Another literary source from the period is Gian Paolo Lomazzo, who produced two works
—one practical and one metaphysical—that helped define the Mannerist artist's self-
conscious relation to his art. His Trattato dell'arte della pittura, scoltura et architettura
(Milan, 1584) is in part a guide to contemporary concepts of decorum, which the
Renaissance inherited in part from Antiquity but Mannerism elaborated upon. Lomazzo's
systematic codification of esthetics, which typifies the more formalized and academic
approaches typical of the later 16th century, controlled a consonance between the
functions of interiors and the kinds of painted and sculpted decors that would be suitable.
Iconography, often convoluted and abstruse, is a more prominent element in the
Mannerist styles. His less practical and more metaphysical Idea del tempio della pittura
("The ideal temple of painting", Milan, 1590) offers a description along the lines of the
"four temperaments" theory of the human nature and personality, containing the
explanations of the role of individuality in judgment and artistic invention.

[edit] Some mannerist examples

Mannerist portraits by Bronzino are distinguished by chilly elegance, perfunctory

realism, and meticulous attention to detail.

[edit] Jacopo da Pontormo

Jacopo da Pontormo's Joseph in Egypt stood in what would have been considered
contradicting colors and disunified time and space in the Renaissance. Neither the
clothing, nor the buildings— not even the colors— accurately represented the Bible story
of Joseph. It was wrong, but it stood out as an accurate representation of society's

[edit] Rosso Fiorentino

Rosso Fiorentino, who had been a fellow-pupil of Pontormo in the studio of Andrea del
Sarto, brought Florentine mannerism to Fontainebleau in 1530, where he became one of
the founders of the French 16th century Mannerism called the "School of Fontainebleau".

[edit] School of Fontainebleau

The examples of a rich and hectic decorative style at Fontainebleau transferred the Italian
style, through the medium of engravings, to Antwerp and thence throughout Northern
Europe, from London to Poland, and brought Mannerist design into luxury goods like
silver and carved furniture. A sense of tense controlled emotion expressed in elaborate
symbolism and allegory, and elongated proportions of female beauty are characteristics
of his style.

[edit] Agnolo Bronzino

Alessandro Allori, Susanna and the elders

Agnolo Bronzino's somewhat icy portraits (illustrated, to the left) put an

uncommunicative abyss between sitter and viewer, concentrating on rendering of the
precise pattern and sheen of rich textiles.

[edit] Alessandro Allori

Alessandro Allori's (1535 - 1607) Susanna and the Elders (illustrated, right) uses
artificial, waxy eroticism and consciously brilliant still life detail, in a crowded contorted

[edit] Jacopo Tintoretto

Jacopo Tintoretto's Last Supper (left) epitomizes Mannerism by taking Jesus and the table
out of the middle of the room.

Tintoretto, Last Supper

He showed all that was happening. In sickly, disorienting colors he painted a scene of
confusion that somehow separated the angels from the real world. He had removed the
world from God's reach.

[edit] El Greco

Baptism, by El Greco

Town Hall of Zamość by Bernardo Morando

El Greco attempted to express the religious tension with exaggerated Mannerism. This
exaggeration would serve to cross over the Mannerist line and be applied to Classicism.
After the realistic depiction of the human form and the mastery of perspective achieved in
high Renaissance Classicism, some artists started to deliberately distort proportions in
disjointed, irrational space for emotional and artistic effect. There are aspects of
Mannerism in El Greco (illustration, right), such as the jarring "acid" color sense,
elongated and tortured anatomy, irrational perspective and light of his crowded
composition, and obscure and troubling iconography.

[edit] Benvenuto Cellini

Benvenuto Cellini created a salt cellar of gold and ebony in 1540 featuring Poseidon and
Amphitrite (earth and water) in elongated form and uncomfortable positions. It is
considered a masterpiece of Mannerist sculpture.
[edit] Mannerist architecture

The porphyry portal of the "church house" at Colditz Castle, Saxony, designed by
Andreas Walther II (1584), is a clear example of the exuberance of "Antwerp

An example of mannerist architecture is the Villa Farnese at Caprarola in the rugged

country side outside of Rome. The proliferation of engravers during the 16th century
spread Mannerist styles more quickly than any previous styles. A center of Mannerist
design was Antwerp during its 16th century boom. Through Antwerp, Renaissance and
Mannerist styles were widely introduced in England, Germany, and northern and eastern
Europe in general. Dense with ornament of "Roman" detailing, the display doorway at
Colditz Castle (illustration, left) exemplifies this northern style, characteristically applied
as an isolated "set piece" against unpretentious vernacular walling.

[edit] Mannerism in literature and music

Main article: Metaphysical poets
Main article: Ars subtilior

In English literature, Mannerism is commonly identified with the qualities of the

"Metaphysical" poets of whom the most famous is John Donne. The witty sally of a
Baroque writer, John Dryden, against the verse of Donne in the previous generation,
affords a concise contrast between Baroque and Mannerist aims in the arts:

"He affects the metaphysics, not only in his satires, but in his amorous verses,
where nature only should reign; and perplexes the minds of the fair sex with nice[5]
speculations of philosophy when he should engage their hearts and entertain
them with the softnesses of love" (italics added).

The word Mannerism has also been used to describe the style of highly florid and
contrapuntally complex polyphonic music made in France in the late 14th century. This
period is now usually referred to as the ars subtilior.
[edit] Notes
1. ^ W. Friedlaender, Mannerism and Anti-Mannerism in Italian Painting, New
York, 1957.
2. ^ John Shearman, Mannerism, Harmondsworth, 1967
3. ^ W. Friedlaender, Mannerism and Anti-Mannerism in Italian Painting, New
York, 1957.
4. ^ John Summerson, Architecture in Britain, New York, 1983, pp. 157-72.
5. ^ 'Nice' in the sense of 'finely reasoned.'

[edit] Further reading

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:


• John Shearman, 1967. Mannerism A classic summation.

• Franzsepp Würtenberger, 1963. Mannerism: The European Style of the Sixteenth
Century (Originally published in German, 1962).
• Giuliano Briganti, 1962. Italian Mannerism (Originally published in Italian,
• Wylie Sypher, Four Stages of Renaissance Style: Transformations in Art and
Literature, 1400-1700, 1955. A classic analysis of Renaissance, Mannerism,
Baroque, and Late Baroque.
• Helen Gardner, Metaphysical Poets, Selected and Edited. Introduction.
• Essays on High Renaissance art and Mannerism by John Haber.

El Greco

General: The Artist | Chronology | Technique and style | Posthumous fame | Cretan School |
Spanish Renaissance | Mannerism

Paintings: List of notable works | The Dormition of the Virgin | The Disrobing of Christ (El
Espolio) | The Burial of the Count of Orgaz | View of Toledo | Opening of the Fifth Seal | The
Adoration of the Shepherds

Western art movements by century

International Gothic - Renaissance (Early) (14th) · Mannerism (16th) ·
14th to 18th century
Baroque (17th) · Rococo - Neoclassicism - Romanticism (18th)
Realism · Pre-Raphaelites · Academic · Impressionism · Post-
Impressionism · Neo-impressionism · Chromoluminarism ·
19th century
Pointillism · Cloisonnism · Les Nabis · Synthetism · Symbolism ·
Hudson River School
Modernism · Cubism · Expressionism · Abstract expressionism ·
Abstract · Neue Künstlervereinigung München · Der Blaue Reiter ·
Die Brücke · Dada · Fauvism · Art Nouveau · Bauhaus · De Stijl · Art
Deco · Pop art · Futurism · Suprematism · Surrealism · Color Field ·
20th century
Minimalism · Installation art · Lyrical Abstraction · Postmodernism ·
Conceptual art · Land art · Performance art · Video art · Neo-
expressionism · Outsider Art · Lowbrow · New media art · Young
British Artists · Stuckism · Systems art
21st century Relational art · Videogame art
Retrieved from ""
Categories: Mannerism | Architectural styles


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