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Definition: mannerism from Philip's Encyclopedia

Term generally applied to the art and architecture of Italy between the High Renaissance and the Baroque. The style is typified by Parmigiano, Pontormo and Giovanni Lanfranco. Some theorists include El Greco, the Fontainebleau school or the Romanist painters of the Netherlands. The term implies a courtly, self-conscious style.


Summary Article: Mannerism
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

In a general sense, any affectation (unnatural imitation or exaggeration) of a style or manner in art, though the term is usually used with reference to Italian painting in the 16th century and represents a distinct phase between the art of the High Renaissance and the rise of baroque. It was largely based on an admiration for Michelangelo and a consequent exaggeration of the emphasis of his composition and the expressive distortion of his figures.

Mannerist characteristics include figures that are unnaturally muscular or elongated, presented in violent or strained postures. The resulting effect is a sense of ambiguity and discomfort rather than the harmony, peace, and composure sought by Renaissance artists, who followed the classical rules of art. Composition was crowded, often showing many inconstancies in proportion and scale as well as a harsh use of colour.

These tendencies developed in Florence, Rome, and Bologna, and the unrest they show may be partly related to the disturbing effect of the Reformation and also to the sack of Rome in 1527, which upset the routine of many painters.

Principal Mannerists were Parmigianino, Daniele da Volterra, Jacopo da Pontormo, Salviati, the brothers Federigo and Taddeo Zuccaro, and Perino del Vaga. A particular and graceful form of Mannerism was that introduced into France by the Italian artists whom Francis I employed, Giovanni Battista Rossi (Il Rosso), Primaticcio and Niccolò dell' Abbate. See also Fontainebleau School. Pellegrino (1527–1592) introduced Mannerism into Spain. Late representatives of the style in Italy were Bronzino, the pupil of Vasari, and the Cavaliere d'Arpino, with whom it is considered to have reached its nadir. In England William Blake and Fuseli show how something of a Mannerist result might be independently reached at a much later date through an admiration for Michelangelo.

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