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Movements, Styles, and Tendencies Mannerism


Mannerism Collage

Started: 1520

Ended: 1620

"You must study the Masters but guard the original style that beats within your soul and put to sword those who would try to steal it."

El Greco Signature


Mannerism launched a highly imaginative period in art following the climax of perfection that naturalistic painting had reached in Renaissance Italy. Artists in 16th century Florence and Rome started to veer from classical influences and move toward a more intellectual and expressive approach. This ushered in a veer from authentic portrayals of figures and subjects, a rejection of harmony, and the development of a dramatic new style unconfined by the pictorial plane, reality, or literal correctness. Radical asymmetry, artifice, and the decorative also informed this movement. New discoveries in science had led society away from Humanist ideals and paintings no longer posited man as the center of the universe, but rather as isolated, peripheral participants in the great mysteries of life.

Some scholars further divide Mannerism into two periods. Early Mannerism, which expressed an anti-traditional approach and lasted until 1535, was followed by High Mannerism where a more intricate and artificial style appealed to more sophisticated patrons, becoming a kind of court style. Later, the use of the term Mannerism to denote a particular period of art history was pioneered by Luigi Lanzi, a 17th century art historian and archeologist. The period would become a forebear to the Baroque period.

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