Mannerism (1520-1590)

Mannerism is a style in art and architecture (1520-1600), born in Italy as a reaction against the balance of form and proportions characteristic of the High Renaissance.

the Deposition (1526-8) The Altarpiece in the Capponi Chapelof S. Felicita, Florence. By Jacopo Pontormo.

Image source: by ideacreamanuelaPps

Mannerist Painting’s Main Features

There are two moments of Mannerist painting: Early Mannerism that is known for its “anti-classical” style and High Mannerism, an intellectual style, designed to fascinate sophisticated patrons. As a whole, Mannerist painting is way more artificial than Renaissance painting. This exaggerated language is typical of emotionalism. This could be seen in elongated human figures, unusual lighting or perspective, vivid colors.

Giuseppe Archimboldo 'Vertumnus - Rudolf II'.
Giuseppe Archimboldo “Vertumnus (1590)- Rudolf II”, c1590.

Image source: by Swallowtail Garden Seeds

In conclusion, the Mannerist’s innovation was more important than the actual subject question. The realism of earlier Renaissance conception of art allowed an artificial appearance. Emotion is conveyed through contorted  scenes, which require an intellectual response from the viewer in which is created a feeling of tension or anxiety.

Andrea Del Sarto, Annunciation
Andrea Del Sarto, Annunciation

Image source: by Perlade

The most important Mannerist Artists 

These are the names of the most important artists of this style:

  • Michelangelo is best known for his Sistine Chapel frescoes such as The Last Judgement;

Italy-3225 - The Last Judgement
The Last Judgement

Image source: by archer10 (Dennis)

  • Correggio is famous for his sentimental narrative works and his light radiating from the child Christ;
  • Parmigianino was an influential master from Parma;
  • Giorgio Vasari was a second rank painter but used to write works like “Lives of the Artists”, he was also the architect who designed the Uffizi in Florence;
  • Tintoretto was a great drawing expert and composed many religious paintings;
Parmigianino, Madonna with the Long Neck (1534-40)
Parmigianino, Madonna with the Long Neck (1534-40)

Image source: by irinaraquel

File:Jacopo, domenico tintoretto, palma il giovane e altri aiuti, paradiso, 1588-94, 05.JPG
paradiso, 1588-94- by Tintoretto– (Length: 22.6 m (24.7 yd) Height: 9.1 m (29.8 ft)

Image source: by Sailko

  • Giuseppe Arcimboldo is known for his bizarre fruit and vegetable portraits;
  • Annibale Carracci was from Bologna, was noticed for his fresco paintings in the Farnese Gallery;
  • Adam Elsheimer had an exquisite way of depicting landscapes, he will influence Claude Lorrain, Rubens, and Rembrandt.
The Baptism of Christ
The Baptism of Christ- by Adam Elsheimer – 1599

Image source: by DJANDYW.COM


While sculpture in the High Renaissance period is featured with forms and perfect proportions as in Michelangelo’s David, Mannerist sculpture, was characterized by very long forms, spiral angels, and twisted poses. In addition to this, Mannerist sculptors used to work with precious metals frequently, it is another important difference-making comparison with sculptors of the High Renaissance.

Perseus With the Head of Medusa
Benvenuto Cellini, Perseus with the head of Medusa, 1545–1554.

Image source: by storem

“Figura Serpentinata” is a style of sculpture typical of Mannerism. Examples can be seen in Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Michelangelo. The change of norms of the High Renaissance brought to the “Serpentita” style. Mannerist style’s structures began to be systematizedMovements were motivated, rendered in a pure form. Powerlessness in actions is evidenced by Giambologna‘s “The rape of Sabine women”.

Rape of the Sabine Women (1583)
Giambologna, The rape of Sabine women, 1583, Florence.

Image source: by rjhuttondfw

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