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Mannerism

( Originally Published 1955 )



An early sixteenth-century style originally described as a perversion of the art of the Italian High Renaissance under the impact of the North. It is now identified as an important and conscious revolt against classicism. It is characterized by a return to spiritua'lity and emotionalism, sometimes even Gothic in feeling, a revolt against the ordered rationality, normalcy and naturalness of the High Renais• sance. This result was an elegant and complex intellectuality, a sinuous linearity, an ambiguity of space, a distortion and exaggeration of proportion and movement, and a pronounced aestheticism for its own sake. The movement had its first expression in Florence about 1520 with Pontormo and Rosso, and developed in Rome, where the latter met Parmigianino in 1524. After the Sack of Rome in 1527 and the dispersal of artists, Parmigianino spread the style in northern Italy and Rosso brought it to Fontainebleau in France. Its origins are varied and its germs are discernible among many High Renaissance artists but its major sources were Michelangelo and Diirer. The leading members of the second generation of Mannerism included Bronzino, Vasari and Salviati. It influenced many artists, among them Tintoretto, El Greco, and a great many in northern Europe. Translated into a decorative style, it became known as the Maniera.



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