fbpx
Connect with us

DailyArtMagazine.com – Art History Stories

Mannerism? Watch Your Manners!

Renaissance

Mannerism? Watch Your Manners!

Young artists who left workshops in the years following the activity of Michelangelo and Raphael must have had a very hard time: how could one create art as perfect as theirs, how could one outdo their achievements? Artists needed to find their own way to make art again. And they did… Mannerism!

Elegance

Parmigianino, Madonna of the Long Neck, 1534-1540, Florence, Uffizi, mannerism
Parmigianino, Madonna of the Long Neck, 1534-1540, Florence, Uffizi

The way was simple: let’s make everything even more idealized than Michelangelo and Raphael did. Not possible? Nonsense, everything is possible. Elegance, beauty and sophistication are a must, and if that requires a little bit of exaggeration…? No problem, an additional cervical vertebrae never killed anyone yet. (Although, to me, giant Madonna of the Long Neck and Extremely Long Fingers doesn’t seem the happiest woman on earth. Not even mentioning her overgrown baby.)

Ornament

Agnolo Bronzino, Eleonora di Toledo and her son, c. 1545, Uffizi, mannerism
Agnolo Bronzino, Eleonora di Toledo and her son, c. 1545, Uffizi

The term used for this new way is Mannerism. It comes from Italian words:

mano (hand)

maniera (style; stylishness)

and it’s applicable to European (mostly Italian) art produced roughly between 1520 and 1600. Mannerism expanded beyond visual art and affected literature and music. I just try to imagine these florid verses flowing out of Manneristic volumes of poetry accompanied by elaborate tunes of a viola…

Elongation

Andrea del Sarto, Madonna of the Harpies, 1516, Uffizi, mannerism
Andrea del Sarto, Madonna of the Harpies, 1516, Uffizi

Andrea del Sarto was a master to two most prominent Mannerist painters in Florence: Jacopo da Pontormo and Rosso Fiorentino. His High Renaissance ideals of beauty, so similar to Raphael’s and Michelangelo’s, left obvious marks on his pupils’ styles. They tried to improve his technique by elongating bodies and arranging them in precariously balanced poses in a collapsed perspective and irrational settings, adding theatrical lighting to heighten the dramatic effect.

Unnatural beauty

Rosso Fiorentino, Angel Pietà (Dead Christ with Angels), completed 1527., mannerism
Rosso Fiorentino, Angel Pietà (Dead Christ with Angels), completed 1527, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Similar trends were developing simultaneously in Rome. Parmigianino, a student of Correggio, and Giulio Romano, who was Raphael’s head assistant, followed the same aesthetic.

Drama

Jacopo Pontormo, Pietà / Entombment, 1525-1528, Florence, Santa Felecità, mannerism
Jacopo Pontormo, Pietà / Entombment, 1525-1528, Florence, Santa Felecità

Mannerism spread across Europe and its examples are visible in the styles of El Greco in Spain or Joachim Wtewael in the Netherlands. However, most followers can be found in Italy, including Alessandro Allori, Tintoretto, Benvenuto Cellini and Giuseppe Arcimboldo. The style hangs about until the Baroque began to sweep over Europe.

Sophistication

Agnolo Bronzino, Cosimo I de’ Medici as Orpheus, c. 1538, Philadelphia Museum of Art, mannierism
Agnolo Bronzino, Cosimo I de’ Medici as Orpheus, c. 1538, Philadelphia Museum of Art

Agnolo Cosimo, known under the name Bronzino (which most probably refers to his dark skin tone) was a student of Jacopo Pontormo. He lived all his life in Florence, and from his late 30s worked as the court painter of Cosimo I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. He is mainly known as a portraitist.

Grace

Francesco Guardi as a Halberdier. 1529-30, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Francesco Guardi as a Halberdier. 1529-30, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Although the identity of the halberdier portrayed is debated, it is most likely the portrait of a Florentine Francesco di Giovanni di Gherardo Guardi. Based on a seventeenth-century inventory of the estate of Riccardo Riccardi, formerly it was thought to be the portrait of the young Duke Cosimo I.

Magda, art historian and Italianist, she writes about art because she cannot make it herself. She loves committed and political artists like Ai Weiwei or the Futurists; like Joseph Beuys she believes that art can change us and we can change the world.

Comments

More in Renaissance

  • Architecture

    Everything You Should Know About Islamic Art

    By

    Bright colorful mosaics, stunning arches, amazing constructions in the middle of the desert, beautifully ornate calligraphy, incredible rock crystal goblets, refined metalwork are just a few of the Islamic art wonders that have fascinated for centuries. They are all the embodiment of Muslim beliefs and ideals....

  • Ancient

    Masterpiece of the Week: Mithras Slaying the Bull

    By

    Mithras Slaying the Bull is a compilation of the entire religious and symbolic images of Mithraism. It reflects promised immortality and personal salvation. It helps followers seek inner peace and cosmic redemption. It helps souls’ journeys through the otherworld. Mithras Slaying the Bull is a masterpiece...

  • Art State of Mind

    All the Fun of the Fair: Carousels, Roundabouts, and Merry-Go-Rounds in Art

    By

    Carousels, roundabouts, and Merry-Go-Rounds have a long history documented in art, stemming back to the time of the crusades. It was used as a method of training for combat, with riders galloping in circles throwing balls at one another. Eventually, these became more of a competition...

  • 19th Century

    Symbolism Special: Jacek Malczewski’s Dates with Death

    By

    Jacek Malczewski is one of the most important Polish symbolist painters. Malczewski is associated with the Young Poland movement (Młoda Polska), a modernist period in Polish culture following more than a century of Partitions of Poland. Therefore Polish martyrdom, romantic ideas of independence, local folklore, and...

  • Painting of the Week

    All You Should Know About the Albrecht Dürer’s Melencolia I

    By

    A famous print, known as Melencolia I created by Albrecht Dürer is one of the most intriguing works in art history. In this modest monochromatic masterpiece, a lot of symbols and meanings are coded. Ready to discover all its secrets? Mysterious title The title of the...

To Top