- Term used by art historians to label a style of painting, sculpture, and architecture that arose in the 1520s as a variant of the style of High Renaissance masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael. The death of Leonardo in 1519 and of Raphael in 1520 is a rough benchmark for the stylistic change perceived by later historians, and while Michelangelo lived much longer, his style underwent significant changes in the 1520s so that his own development has often been expressed in terms of a shift from Renaissance to mannerist art. The end of mannerism is far more vague than its beginning. About the end of the 16th century, historians of art identify the emergence of the style known as baroque, though the change from mannerist to baroque style seems to have been gradual and is often hard to describe objectively."Mannerism" as a label for a style and a period is rooted in the Italian noun maniera, used by the pioneer art historian Giorgio Vasari to mean "style." The principal characteristics of art designated as mannerist are deliberate striving after bizarre effects, violent emotion, emphasis on movement, vivid colors, and exaggerated subjectivity. The mannerist artists chose certain elements in the style of the Renaissance masters and sought to be innovative by developing these further or even exaggerating them. The new style began with extreme, shocking distortion in the work of two young Florentine painters, Rosso Florentino and Jacopo da Pontormo, in the 1520s. Early examples are Rosso's Descent from the Cross and Pontormo's Joseph with Jacob in Egypt (1518). Both of these paintings use exaggeration and violence to flout the stable and composed images typical of the Renaissance masters. Less violent and less extreme are the works of Parmigianino, who in his self-portrait of 1524 toys with the distortion caused by his own image in a convex mirror. A clear example of mannerist distortion is Parmigianino's Madonna with the Long Neck (ca. 1535). The painting is full of strange details that deliberately challenge the viewer's expectations.Other painters whose works exemplify the mannerist style are Bronzino and Tintoretto, the first Venetian painter to be associated with mannerism, while the greatest of the mannerist painters was El Greco, a native of Crete who reached the peak of his career in the Spain of Philip II. In sculpture, Benvenuto Cellini and Giovanni da Bologna provide early and later examples of mannerist style. In architecture, examples of mannerism include the Uffizi Palace at Florence, designed by Giorgio Vasari, and the Palazzo del Tè at Mantua, designed by Giulio Romano.
Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. Charles G. Nauert. 2004.