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Mannerism

1520 - 1600

The term Mannerism may have began as an insult. 'Maniera' coined by the historian-painter Giorgio Vasari, may have meant 'stylish' or 'try-hard', but either way it perfectly described the decadence of post-renaissance painting, when artists like Michelangelo and Raphael began to distort their subjects.

High Renaissance painting had elevated the human form to a super-human ideal. Men flexed rippling muscles, and every woman was a curvaceous Venus. Mannerism was the next logical step, where virtuoso painters pushed past natural proportions, stretching their figures into stylized cartoons with elongated fingers, surreally stretched necks, and precarious, unnatural poses.

Derogatory or not, Mannerism caught on. Young artists, like Parmigianino and Pontormo wanted to exceed the Renaissance masters, and pushed themselves to create more dramatic compositions, and imbue their work with psychological tension. Mannerism was stylish, it was fashion. Like runway models, the exaggerated subjects of Mannerist paintings were intended to look cold and aloof.

Though Mannerism began in the studios of Florence and Rome, the Sack of Rome in 1527 sent a wave of refugee artists across Europe. Soon the Mannerist style became rooted in Northern Italy, France, and even the Netherlands. But just as the Mannerism replaced the naturalism of the High Renaissance, as the new dominant style it was soon to be toppled from its throne. A young artist named Caravaggio would bring his own dark version of realism back into vogue in the a new style called Baroque.

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Adonis Relinquishing Venus for the Hunt

Adonis Relinquishing Venus for the Hunt

Titian,1460

Agnolo Bronzino

A butcher's son swept off his feet by a renaissance master.

1503-1572

Giuseppe Arcimboldo

Why take art so seriously?

1526-1593
Portrait of a Young Man

Portrait of a Young Man

Agnolo Bronzino,1530
Portrait of Cosimo I de Medici as Orpheus

Portrait of Cosimo I de Medici as Orpheus

Agnolo Bronzino,1537-1539

El Greco

Finally, a renaissance master with soul

1541-1614
Crucified Christ

Crucified Christ

Agnolo Bronzino,1545
Deposition of Christ

Deposition of Christ

Agnolo Bronzino,1540-1545
The Adoration of the Bronze Snake

The Adoration of the Bronze Snake

Agnolo Bronzino,1540-1545
An Allegory with Venus and Cupid

An Allegory with Venus and Cupid

Agnolo Bronzino,1545

Beginning with the oldest and most important, I shall speak first of Agnolo called Bronzino, a Florentine painter truly most rare and worthy of all praise.

The Life of Agnolo Bronzino

Giorgio Vasari,1550
Portrait of Laura Battiferri

Portrait of Laura Battiferri

Agnolo Bronzino,1552
Portrait of the dwarf Nano Morgantе (Back)

Portrait of the dwarf Nano Morgantе (Back)

Agnolo Bronzino,1552
Portrait of the dwarf Nano Morgantе (Front)

Portrait of the dwarf Nano Morgantе (Front)

Agnolo Bronzino,1552
Venus, Cupid, and Satyr

Venus, Cupid, and Satyr

Agnolo Bronzino,1553-1554
Portrait of Eleanor of Toledo with her son Giovanni de Medici

Portrait of Eleanor of Toledo with her son Giovanni de Medici

Agnolo Bronzino,1554-1555
The Garden of Gethsemane

The Garden of Gethsemane

Giorgio Vasari,1570
The Burial of Christ

The Burial of Christ

Titian,1572
Spain Succouring Religion

Spain Succouring Religion

Titian,1575
The Holy Trinity

The Holy Trinity

El Greco,1577-1579
Judith with the Head of Holophernes

Judith with the Head of Holophernes

Fede Galizia,1596
The Annunciation

The Annunciation

El Greco,1596-1600
Laocoön

Laocoön

El Greco,1604-1614