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Burckhardt generally viewed the periods following the renaissance, such as Mannerism and the Baroque as "raw and deviant" (Der Cicerone, 1855).

Related: 1500s - aesthetics - art - Bomarzo park - fantastic art - grotesque art - style

People: Giuseppe Arcimboldo - El Greco - Quentin Massys - Giulio Romano

Preceded by: Renaissance art

Followed by: Baroque art

Vertumnus (1590-1591) - Giuseppe Arcimboldo


Mannerism is the usual English term for an approach to all the arts, particularly painting but not exclusive to it, a reaction to the High Renaissance, emerging after the Sack of Rome in 1527 shook Renaissance confidence, humanism and rationality to their foundations, and even Religion had split apart.

The term comes from the Italian maniera, or "style," in the sense of an artist's characteristic "touch" or recognizable "manner."

"Mannerism" was initially a contentious stylistic label among art historians when it resurfaced before World War I, first used by German art historians like Heinrich Wölfflin to categorize the seemingly uncategorizable art of the Italian 16th century, the style that introduced the Renaissance to France in the Fontainebleau schools and to Antwerp in quite another "manner", styles that were neither Renaissance nor Baroque.

See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mannerism

Art for art's sake

Mannerist artist evolved a style that is characteristic of artiness, by a thorough self-conscious cultivation of elegance and technical facility, and by sophisticated indulgence of the bizarre. There are often intense and unnatural colors and sometimes a totally irrational mix of classical motifs and other visual references to the antique, and inventive and grotesque pictorial fantasies. --http://www.belmont.edu/Humanities/literature/LIS350/Artemis/huntresst.html [Oct 2005]

Opposition to High Renaissance

Mannerism is usually set in opposition to High Renaissance conventions. It was not that artists despaired of achieving the immediacy and balance of Raphael; it was that such balance was no longer relevant or appropriate. Mannerism developed among the pupils of two masters of the integrated classical moment, 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, and with whom Vasari apprenticed.

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. In spite of the uniquely individual quality that sets him apart from simple style designations, you can detect Mannerism in El Greco's jarring "acid" color sense, his figures' elongated and tortured anatomy, the irrational perspective and light of his breathless and crowded composition, and obscure and troubling iconography.

In Italy mannerist centers were Rome, Florence and Mantua. Venetian painting, in its separate "school" pursued a separate course, epitomized in the long career of Titian. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mannerism [Oct 2005]

Heinrich Wölfflin

For Heinrich Wölfflin, the 16th-century art now described as "Mannerist" was part of the Baroque esthetic, one that Burckhardt before him as well as most French and English-speaking scholars for a generation after him dismissed as degenerate. [Oct 2005]

See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinrich_W%C3%B6lfflin


In European art, Renaissance Classicism spawned two different movements— Mannerism and the Baroque. Mannerism, a reaction against the idealist perfection of Classicism, employed distortion of light and spatial frameworks in order to emphasize the emotional content of a painting and the emotions of the painter. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_art_history#Mannerism.2C_Baroque.2C_and_Rococo [Oct 2005]

Antwerp Mannerism

Style of painting and drawing practised by artists working in Antwerp during the period from c. 1500 to 1530. The term was coined by Max Friedländer in 1915 in his article ‘Die Antwerpener Manieristen von 1520’. In this and subsequent publications (1921, 1933 and 1937) he attempted to bring order into a large body of anonymous Antwerp paintings (and some drawings) that had been gradually gathered under the name of Herri met de Bles, after an Adoration of the Magi (Munich, Alte Pin.) bearing a false Bles signature. Only a small proportion of these works could be sorted into recognizable hands. The principal anonymous masters identified by Friedländer were PSEUDO-BLES (or Pseudo-Blesius), the author of the Munich painting, the MASTER OF THE VON GROOTE ADORATION, the MASTER OF THE ANTWERP ADORATION, the MASTER OF AMIENS (for all of whom see MASTERS, ANONYMOUS, AND MONOGRAMMISTS, §I) and the Master of 1518 (subsequently identified by Marlier as JAN MERTENS). The outstanding known artist of the group is JAN DE BEER. Friedländer also included ADRIAEN VAN OVERBEKE, the early work of JAN GOSSART and the putative oeuvre of Jan Wellens de Cock (see COCK, (1)) as part of Antwerp Mannerism. Despite its name, Antwerp Mannerism is unrelated to Italian or later Flemish Mannerism; its mannerism, instead, is an expression of Late Gothic art. --http://www.artnet.com/library/00/0033/T003370.ASP [Oct 2005]

When writing his voluminous account of Flemish painting in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the German art historian Max Friedländer (1867–1958) was confronted by a large number of paintings and drawings by unknown Antwerp masters from the period 1500-1530. Friedländer referred to these masters as the “Antwerp mannerists of around 1520” – a rather unfortunate turn of phrase because it can give rise to confusion with artists who are traditionally labelled as mannerists, such as Parmigianino, Pontormo, Bronzino and Spranger. Unlike the latter masters, the Antwerp artists of around 1520 were still working in a late-Gothic tradition.

The reason the group of artists has never been well-known or popular, is because we often do not know their names. The paintings are not signed and in most cases it is impossible to link the works with the names of painters found in the registers. Only a small number of these works have been classified. The makers of the altarpieces were given a nickname derived from either a wrong inscription, an owner, the place where a certain painting was kept or a date found on the work. As a result people talk of Pseudo-Bles, the Master of the Von Groote Adoration, the Master of Amiens, the Antwerp Master of the Adoration and the Master of 1518.

The name of a number of masters has since been discovered, such as Jan de Beer and Adriaen van Overbeke and some claim that the Master of 1518 was Jan Mertens or Jan van Dornicke, the father-in-law of Pieter Coecke van Aelst.

The 'Antwerp mannerists' were a real phenomenon in their day. Their success was closely tied up with Antwerp’s development as a trade metropolis. At that time the city on the Scheldt was a magnet for foreign investment and, hardly surprisingly, an art market of international significance soon began to thrive in that healthy financial climate. Most of the altarpieces were destined for export. They were commissioned by merchants and sold on to other merchants. Original compositions were copied in any number of variations and themes were recycled. Subject and style were chosen on the basis of saleability. These masters often chose the ‘Adoration of the kings’ as a theme, because that subject was familiar all over Europe and much in demand. The three kings from the East and their retinue who come to greet the new-born Christ were a favourite subject of the artists, because they were a good pretext for painting partly imaginary and partly exotic clothes, bizarre footwear and striking headwear. The style of these paintings is extravagant. 'Antwerp mannerism' is a fashion statement. The fall of the folds of the flamboyant costumes worn by the characters in the paintings, eludes Newton's laws of gravitation. The figures are depicted in rather unnatural poses. The background is dominated by a fantastic hybrid architecture covered with late-Gothic ornamentation and renaissance motifs. The 'Antwerp mannerists' were more concerned with technical virtuosity than with monumentality: no distinction was made between essentials and minor details. --http://museum.antwerpen.be/kmska/Engels/extravagant.htm [Oct 2005]

See also: Antwerpen


The creation of artificial grottoes was an introduction of Mannerist style to Italian, and then to French, gardens of the mid 16th century. Two famous grottoes in the Boboli Gardens of Palazzo Pitti were begun by Vasari and completed by Ammannati and Buontalenti between 1583 and 1593. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grotto [Oct 2005]


The park of Bomarzo contains no pretty flower beds or sweeping lawns. A truly Mannerist work of art, it seeks, not to please, but to astonish, and like many Mannerist works of art, its symbolism is arcane: instead, one of Hannibal's elephants, larger than life, mangles a Roman soldier, a giant mermaid lounges incongruously on the bare ground — a vase of verdure perched on her head. Shelter from the blazing sun can be had by climbing a flight of steps into the mouth of a grotesque Giant's head carved from the living rock. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bomarzo [Oct 2005]


The modern concept of "taste" is a product of the 16th century Italian Mannerism: the idea of "taste" as a quality that is independent of the style that is simply its vehicle — though the style might be designated a taste, such as "the Antique taste"— was born in the circle of Pope Julius III and first realized at the Villa Giulia built on the edge of Rome in 1551 - 1555. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taste [Oct 2005]

Italian Mannerism

As the Renaissance had moved from formulaic depiction to a more natural observation of the figure, light and perspective, so the subsequent, Mannerist, period is marked by a move to forms conceived in the mind. Once the ideals of the Renaissance had had their effect artists such as Giulio Romano (ca 1499? to 1546) were able to introduce personal elements of subjectivity to their interpretation of visual forms. The perfection of perspective, light and realistic human figures can be thought of as impossible to improve upon unless another factor is included in the image, namely the factor of how the artist feels about the image. This emotional content in Mannerism is also the beginnings of a movement which would eventually, much later, become Expressionism in the 19th century. The difference between Mannerism and Expressionism is really a matter of degree.

Guilo Romano was a student an protege of Raphael. Other Italian Mannerist painters included Pontormo and Rosso Fiorentino, students of Andrea del Sarto. The Spanish Mannerist El Greco was a student of the Italian Renaissance painter Titian.

The most famous Italian painter of the Mannerist style and period is Tintoretto (Jacopo Robusti) (1518-1594). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_of_Italy#Mannerism [Oct 2005]

French Mannerism

Outside of France, working for the ducs of Lorraine, one finds a very different late mannerist style in the artists Jacques Bellange, Claude Deruet and Jacques Callot. Having little contact with the French artists of the period, they developed a heightened, extreme, and often erotic mannerism (including night scenes and nightmare images), and excellent skill in engraving. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Renaissance#Late_Mannerism_and_Early_Baroque [Oct 2005]

Some mannerist artists

Hans von Aachen Angelo Allori Cristofano Allori C Denis Calvaert Girolamo da Carpi C cont. Ludovico Carracci Agnolo di Cosimo D Dionisius E El Greco N Niccolò dell'Abbate P Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola P cont. Pontormo R Giulio Romano T Pellegrino Tibaldi V Paolo Veronese Adriaen de Vries Z Taddeo Zuccaro --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Mannerism_artists [Oct 2005]

Neuw Grottessken Buch (1610) - Christoph Jamnitzer

Neuw Grottessken Buch (1610) - Christoph Jamnitzer

Christoph Jamnitzer (1563-1618)

Jamnitzer’s designs are, perhaps, a high-water-mark of a trend in Northern European mannerist grotesquerie that had begun in Antwerp in the 1550s, with the stylised designs of Cornelis Floris, and which had been continued by such artists and craftsmen as Joris Hoefnagel, in the illuminated alphabet appended to the Mira Calligraphiæ Monumenta, and by the brothers de Bry, in their Neiw Kunstliches Alphabet of 1595. --http://www.spamula.net/blog/archives/000648.html#000648 [Sept 2005]

See also: grotesque - mannerism - 1600s

Mannerism and Anti-Mannerism in Italian Painting () by W. Friedlaender

Mannerism and Anti-Mannerism in Italian Painting () by W. Friedlaender [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Friedländer was among those art historians who rejected the notion of Italian Mannerism as a degenerate style, even eschewing the term "Mannerism" itself. He formulated the boundaries of Mannerism ("anti-classicism") around 1520 and a second wave around 1550. --http://www.lib.duke.edu/lilly/artlibry/dah/friedlanderw.htm [Oct 2005]

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