Mannerism, also known as Late Renaissance,[1] is a style in European art that emerged in the later years of the Italian High Renaissance around 1520, spreading by about 1530 and lasting until about the end of the 16th century in Italy, when the Baroque style largely replaced it. Northern Mannerism continued into the early 17th century.[2]

Stylistically, Mannerism encompasses a variety of approaches influenced by, and reacting to, the harmonious ideals associated with artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and early Michelangelo. Where High Renaissance art emphasizes proportion, balance, and ideal beauty, Mannerism exaggerates such qualities, often resulting in compositions that are asymmetrical or unnaturally elegant.[3] The style is notable for its intellectual sophistication as well as its artificial (as opposed to naturalistic) qualities.[4] This artistic style privileges compositional tension and instability rather than the balance and clarity of earlier Renaissance painting. Mannerism in literature and music is notable for its highly florid style and intellectual sophistication.[5]

The definition of Mannerism and the phases within it continue to be a subject of debate among art historians. For example, some scholars have applied the label to certain early modern forms of literature (especially poetry) and music of the 16th and 17th centuries. The term is also used to refer to some late Gothic painters working in northern Europe from about 1500 to 1530, especially the Antwerp Mannerists—a group unrelated to the Italian movement. Mannerism has also been applied by analogy to the Silver Age of Latin literature.[6]

Parmigianino 003b
In Parmigianino's Madonna with the Long Neck (1534–40), Mannerism makes itself known by elongated proportions, highly stylized poses, and lack of clear perspective.


Laocoon Pio-Clementino Inv1059-1064-1067
Mannerism role-model: Laocoön and His Sons, an ancient sculpture, rediscovered in 1506; now in the Vatican. The artists of Mannerism greatly admired this piece of sculpture.[3]

The word, "Mannerism" derives from the Italian maniera, meaning "style" or "manner". Like the English word "style", maniera can either indicate a specific type of style (a beautiful style, an abrasive style) or indicate an absolute that needs no qualification (someone "has style").[7] In the second edition of his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects (1568), Giorgio Vasari used maniera in three different contexts: to discuss an artist's manner or method of working; to describe a personal or group style, such as the term maniera greca to refer to the Byzantine style or simply to the maniera of Michelangelo; and to affirm a positive judgment of artistic quality.[8] Vasari was also a Mannerist artist, and he described the period in which he worked as "la maniera moderna", or the "modern style".[9] James V. Mirollo describes how "bella maniera" poets attempted to surpass in virtuosity the sonnets of Petrarch.[10] This notion of "bella maniera" suggests that artists who were thus inspired looked to copying and bettering their predecessors, rather than confronting nature directly. In essence, "bella maniera" utilized the best from a number of source materials, synthesizing it into something new.[10]

As a stylistic label, "Mannerism" is not easily defined. It was used by Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt and popularized by German art historians in the early 20th century to categorize the seemingly uncategorizable art of the Italian 16th century — art that was no longer found to exhibit the harmonious and rational approaches associated with the High Renaissance. “High Renaissance” connoted a period distinguished by harmony, grandeur and the revival of classical antiquity. The term Mannerist was redefined in 1967 by John Shearman[11] following the exhibition of Mannerist paintings organised by Fritz Grossmann at Manchester City Art Gallery in 1965.[12] The label “Mannerism” was used during the 16th century to comment on social behaviour and to convey a refined virtuoso quality or to signify a certain technique. However, for later writers, such as the 17th-century Gian Pietro Bellori, "la maniera" was a derogatory term for the perceived decline of art after Raphael, especially in the 1530s and 1540s.[13] From the late 19th century on, art historians have commonly used the term to describe art that follows Renaissance classicism and precedes the Baroque.

Yet historians differ as to whether Mannerism is a style, a movement, or a period; and while the term remains controversial it is still commonly used to identify European art and culture of the 16th century.[14]

Origin and development

Dividing water from Heaven
Collected figures, ignudi, from Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling

By the end of the High Renaissance, young artists experienced a crisis:[3] it seemed that everything that could be achieved was already achieved. No more difficulties, technical or otherwise, remained to be solved. The detailed knowledge of anatomy, light, physiognomy and the way in which humans register emotion in expression and gesture, the innovative use of the human form in figurative composition, the use of the subtle gradation of tone, all had reached near perfection. The young artists needed to find a new goal, and they sought new approaches.[15] At this point Mannerism started to emerge.[3] The new style developed between 1510 and 1520 either in Florence,[16] or in Rome, or in both cities simultaneously.[17]

Origins and role models

This period has been described as a "natural extension"[5] of the art of Andrea del Sarto, Michelangelo, and Raphael. Michelangelo developed his own style at an early age, a deeply original one which was greatly admired at first, then often copied and imitated by other artists of the era.[5] One of the qualities most admired by his contemporaries was his terribilità, a sense of awe-inspiring grandeur, and subsequent artists attempted to imitate it.[5] Other artists learned Michelangelo's impassioned and highly personal style by copying the works of the master, a standard way that students learned to paint and sculpt. His Sistine Chapel ceiling provided examples for them to follow, in particular his representation of collected figures often called ignudi and of the Libyan Sibyl, his vestibule to the Laurentian Library, the figures on his Medici tombs, and above all his Last Judgment. The later Michelangelo was one of the great role models of Mannerism.[5] Young artists broke in to his house and stole drawings from him.[18] In his book Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, Giorgio Vasari noted that Michelangelo stated once: "Those who are followers can never pass by whom they follow".[18]

The competitive spirit

The competitive spirit was cultivated by patrons who encouraged sponsored artists to emphasize virtuosic technique and to compete with one another for commissions. It drove artists to look for new approaches and dramatically illuminated scenes, elaborate clothes and compositions, elongated proportions, highly stylized poses, and a lack of clear perspective. Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo were each given a commission by Gonfaloniere Piero Soderini to decorate a wall in the Hall of Five Hundred in Florence. These two artists were set to paint side by side and compete against each other, fueling the incentive to be as innovative as possible.

La batalla de Cascina - Sangallo
Copy after lost original, Michelangelo's Battaglia di Cascina, by Bastiano da Sangallo, originally intended by Michelangelo to compete with Da Vinci's entry for the same commission
Peter Paul Ruben's copy of the lost Battle of Anghiari
Copy after lost original, Leonardo da Vinci's Battaglia di Anghiari, by Rubens, originally intended by Da Vinci to compete with Michelangelo's entry for the same commission

Early mannerism

Jacopo Pontormo 004
Jacopo Pontormo, Entombment, 1528; Santa Felicità, Florence

The early Mannerists in Florence—especially the students of Andrea del Sarto such as Jacopo da Pontormo and Rosso Fiorentino who are notable for elongated forms, precariously balanced poses, a collapsed perspective, irrational settings, and theatrical lighting. Parmigianino (a student of Correggio) and Giulio Romano (Raphael's head assistant) were moving in similarly stylized aesthetic directions in Rome. These artists had matured under the influence of the High Renaissance, and their style has been characterized as a reaction to or exaggerated extension of it. Instead of studying nature directly, younger artists began studying Hellenistic sculpture and paintings of masters past. Therefore, this style is often identified as "anti-classical”,[19] yet at the time it was considered a natural progression from the High Renaissance. The earliest experimental phase of Mannerism, known for its "anti-classical" forms, lasted until about 1540 or 1550.[17] Marcia B. Hall, professor of art history at Temple University, notes in her book After Raphael that Raphael's premature death marked the beginning of Mannerism in Rome.

In past analyses, it has been noted that mannerism arose in the early 16th century contemporaneously with a number of other social, scientific, religious and political movements such as the Copernican model, the Sack of Rome, and the Protestant Reformation's increasing challenge to the power of the Catholic Church. Because of this, the style's elongated forms and distorted forms were once interpreted as a reaction to the idealized compositions prevalent in High Renaissance art.[20] This explanation for the radical stylistic shift c. 1520 has fallen out of scholarly favor, though early Mannerist art is still sharply contrasted with High Renaissance conventions; the accessibility and balance achieved by Raphael's School of Athens no longer seemed to interest young artists.

High maniera

The second period of Mannerism is commonly differentiated from the earlier, so-called "anti-classical" phase. Subsequent mannerists stressed intellectual conceits and artistic virtuosity, features that have led later critics to accuse them of working in an unnatural and affected "manner" (maniera). Maniera artists looked to their older contemporary Michelangelo as their principal model; theirs was an art imitating art, rather than an art imitating nature. Art historian Sydney Joseph Freedberg argues that the intellectualizing aspect of maniera art involves expecting its audience to notice and appreciate this visual reference—a familiar figure in an unfamiliar setting enclosed between "unseen, but felt, quotation marks".[21] The height of artifice is the Maniera painter's penchant for deliberately misappropriating a quotation. Agnolo Bronzino and Giorgio Vasari exemplify this strain of Maniera that lasted from about 1530 to 1580. Based largely at courts and in intellectual circles around Europe, Maniera art couples exaggerated elegance with exquisite attention to surface and detail: porcelain-skinned figures recline in an even, tempered light, acknowledging the viewer with a cool glance, if they make eye contact at all. The Maniera subject rarely displays much emotion, and for this reason works exemplifying this trend are often called 'cold' or 'aloof.' This is typical of the so-called "stylish style" or Maniera in its maturity.[22]

Spread of mannerism

Henry Howard Earl of Surrey 1546
English Mannerism: Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, 1546, a rare English Mannerist portrait by a Flemish immigrant

The cities Rome, Florence, and Mantua were Mannerist centers in Italy. Venetian painting pursued a different course, represented by Titian in his long career. A number of the earliest Mannerist artists who had been working in Rome during the 1520s fled the city after the Sack of Rome in 1527. As they spread out across the continent in search of employment, their style was disseminated throughout Italy and Northern Europe.[23] The result was the first international artistic style since the Gothic.[24] Other parts of Northern Europe did not have the advantage of such direct contact with Italian artists, but the Mannerist style made its presence felt through prints and illustrated books. European rulers, among others, purchased Italian works, while northern European artists continued to travel to Italy, helping to spread the Mannerist style. Individual Italian artists working in the North gave birth to a movement known as the Northern Mannerism. Francis I of France, for example, was presented with Bronzino's Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time. The style waned in Italy after 1580, as a new generation of artists, including the Carracci brothers, Caravaggio and Cigoli, revived naturalism. Walter Friedlaender identified this period as "anti-mannerism", just as the early mannerists were "anti-classical" in their reaction away from the aesthetic values of the High Renaissance[25] and today the Carracci brothers and Caravaggio are agreed to have begun the transition to Baroque-style painting which was dominant by 1600.

Outside of Italy, however, Mannerism continued into the 17th century. In France, where Rosso traveled to work for the court at Fontainebleau, it is known as the "Henry II style" and had a particular impact on architecture. Other important continental centers of Northern Mannerism include the court of Rudolf II in Prague, as well as Haarlem and Antwerp. Mannerism as a stylistic category is less frequently applied to English visual and decorative arts, where native labels such as "Elizabethan" and "Jacobean" are more commonly applied. Seventeenth-century Artisan Mannerism is one exception, applied to architecture that relies on pattern books rather than on existing precedents in Continental Europe.[26]

Of particular note is the Flemish influence at Fontainebleau that combined the eroticism of the French style with an early version of the vanitas tradition that would dominate seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish painting. Prevalent at this time was the "pittore vago," a description of painters from the north who entered the workshops in France and Italy to create a truly international style.


As in painting, early Italian Mannerist sculpture was very largely an attempt to find an original style that would top the achievement of the High Renaissance, which in sculpture essentially meant Michelangelo, and much of the struggle to achieve this was played out in commissions to fill other places in the Piazza della Signoria in Florence, next to Michelangelo's David. Baccio Bandinelli took over the project of Hercules and Cacus from the master himself, but it was little more popular then than it is now, and maliciously compared by Benvenuto Cellini to "a sack of melons", though it had a long-lasting effect in apparently introducing relief panels on the pedestal of statues. Like other works of his and other Mannerists it removes far more of the original block than Michelangelo would have done.[27] Cellini's bronze Perseus with the head of Medusa is certainly a masterpiece, designed with eight angles of view, another Mannerist characteristic, and artificially stylized in comparison with the Davids of Michelangelo and Donatello.[28] Originally a goldsmith, his famous gold and enamel Salt Cellar (1543) was his first sculpture, and shows his talent at its best.[29]

Small bronze figures for collector's cabinets, often mythological subjects with nudes, were a popular Renaissance form at which Giambologna, originally Flemish but based in Florence, excelled in the later part of the century. He also created life-size sculptures, of which two entered the collection in the Piazza della Signoria. He and his followers devised elegant elongated examples of the figura serpentinata, often of two intertwined figures, that were interesting from all angles.[30]

Fontainebleau escalier roi

Stucco overdoor at Fontainebleau, probably designed by Primaticcio, who painted the oval inset, 1530s or 1540s


Benvenuto Cellini, Perseus with the head of Medusa, 1545–1554

Samson slaying a philistine

Giambologna, Samson Slaying a Philistine, about 1562

Giambologna raptodasabina

Giambologna, Rape of the Sabine Women, 1583, Florence, Italy, 13' 6" high, marble


Adriaen de Vries, Mercury and Psyche Northern Mannerist life-size bronze, made in 1593 for Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor.

Statue Of Venus

Venus, c. 125; Marble, Roman; British Museum

Early theorists

Pietro Francavilla - Apollo Victorious over the Python - Walters 27302
Pietro Francavilla, Apollo Victorious over the Python, 1591. The Walters Art Museum

Giorgio Vasari

Giorgio Vasari's opinions about the art of painting emerge in the praise he bestows on fellow artists in his multi-volume Lives of the Artists: he believed that excellence in painting demanded refinement, richness of invention (invenzione), expressed through virtuoso technique (maniera), and wit and study that appeared in the finished work, all criteria that emphasized the artist's intellect and the patron's sensibility. The artist was now no longer just a trained member of a local Guild of St Luke. Now he took his place at court alongside scholars, poets, and humanists, in a climate that fostered an appreciation for elegance and complexity. The coat-of-arms of Vasari's Medici patrons appears at the top of his portrait, quite as if it were the artist's own. The framing of the woodcut image of Vasari's Lives of the Artists would be called "Jacobean" in an English-speaking milieu. In it, Michelangelo's Medici tombs inspire the anti-architectural "architectural" features at the top, the papery pierced frame, the satyr nudes at the base. As a mere frame it is extravagant: Mannerist, in short.

Gian Paolo Lomazzo

Another literary figure from the period is Gian Paolo Lomazzo, who produced two works—one practical and one metaphysical—that helped define the Mannerist artist's self-conscious relation to his art. His Trattato dell'arte della pittura, scoltura et architettura (Milan, 1584) is in part a guide to contemporary concepts of decorum, which the Renaissance inherited in part from Antiquity but Mannerism elaborated upon. Lomazzo's systematic codification of aesthetics, which typifies the more formalized and academic approaches typical of the later 16th century, emphasized a consonance between the functions of interiors and the kinds of painted and sculpted decors that would be suitable. Iconography, often convoluted and abstruse, is a more prominent element in the Mannerist styles. His less practical and more metaphysical Idea del tempio della pittura (The ideal temple of painting, Milan, 1590) offers a description along the lines of the "four temperaments" theory of human nature and personality, defining the role of individuality in judgment and artistic invention.

Characteristics of artworks created during the Mannerist period

Mannerism was an anti-classical movement which differed greatly from the aesthetic ideologies of the Renaissance.[31] Though Mannerism was initially accepted with positivity based on the writings of Vasari,[31] it was later regarded in a negative light because it solely view as, "an alteration of natural truth and a trite repetition of natural formulas."[31] As an artistic moment, Mannerism involves many characteristics that are unique and specific to experimentation of how art is perceived. Below is a list of many specific characteristics that Mannerist artists would employ in their artworks.

  • Elongation of Figures: One element of Mannerist style featured the distortion of the human figure in order to create a sense of elegance. At times, the extreme elongation of human figures attributed to bizarre imagery.[32] 
  • Distortion of Perspective: In paintings, the distortion of perspective explored the ideals for creating a perfect space. However, the idea of perfection sometimes alluded to the creation of unique imagery. One way in which distortion was explored was through the technique of foreshortening. At times, when extreme distortion was utilized, it would render the image nearly impossible to decipher.[32]
  • Black Backgrounds: Mannerist artists often utilized flat back backgrounds to present a full contrast of contours in order to create dramatic scenes. Black backgrounds also contributed to a creating sense of fantasy within the subject matter.[32]  
  • Use of darkness and light: Many Mannerists were interested in capturing the essence of the night sky through the use of intentional illumination, often creating a sense of fanatical scenes. Notably, special attention was paid to torch and moonlight to create dramatic scenes.[32]
  • Sculptural forms: Mannerism was greatly influenced by sculpture, which gained popularity in the sixteenth century. As a result, Mannerist artists often based their depictions of human bodies in reference to sculptures and prints. This allowed Mannerist artists to focus on creating dimension.[32]
  • Clarity of Line: The attention that was paid to clean outlines of figures was prominent within Mannerism and differed largely from the Baroque and High Renaissance.The outlines of figures often allowed for more attention to detail.[32]  
  • Composition and Space: Mannerist artists rejected the ideals of the Renaissance, notably the technique of one-point perspective. Instead, there was an emphasis on atmospheric effects and distortion of perspective. The use of space in Mannerist works instead privileged crowded compositions with various forms and figures or scant compositions with emphasis on black backgrounds.[32]  
  • Mannerist Movement: The interest in the study of human movement often lead to Mannerist artists rendering a unique type of movement linked to serpentine positions. These positions often anticipate the movements of future positions because of their often-unstable motions figures. In addition, this technique attributes to the artist's experimentation of form.[32]
  • Painted Frames: In some Mannerist works, painted frames were utilized to blend in with the background of paintings and at times, contribute to the overall composition of the artwork. This is at times prevalent when there is special attention paid to ornate detailing.[32]
  • Atmospheric Effects: Many Mannerists utilized the technique of sfumato, known as, “the rendering of soft and hazy contours or surfaces”[32] in their paintings for rendering the streaming of light.[32]  
  • Mannerist Color: A unique aspect of Mannerism was in addition to the experimentation of form, composition, and light, much of the same curiosity was applied to color. Many artworks toyed with pure and intense hues of blues, green, pinks, and yellows, which at times detract from the overall design of artworks, and at other times, compliment it. Additionally, when rending skin tone, artists would often concentrate on create overly creaming and light complexions and often utilize undertones of blue.[32]

Mannerist artists and examples of their works

Persus and Andromeda by Joachim Wtewael
Joachim Wtewael Perseus and Andromeda, 1616, Louvre, the composition displaying a Vanité of bones and seashells in the foreground and an elaborate academic nude with a palette borrowing from the forefront for Andromeda's cheeks. The Dragon seems of sino-oriental influence.

Jacopo da Pontormo

Jacopo Pontormo's work has been known as some of the most important contributions to Mannerism.[33] Much of his subject matter drew upon religious narratives as well as the influence of the works of Michelangelo[33] and referencing sculpture for composing human forms.[31] A well-known element of his work is the rendering of gazes by various figures which often pierce out at the viewer in various directions.[31] Dedicated to his work, Pontormo, often expressed anxiety about the quality of his work and was known to work slow and methodically.[31] His legacy is highly regarded, as he influenced artists such as Agnolo Bronzino and the aesthetic ideals of late Mannerism.[33]

Pontomoro's Joseph in Egypt, painted in 1517,[31] portrays a running narrative of four Biblical scenes in which Joseph reconnects with his family. On the left side of the composition, Pontomoro depicts a scene of Joseph introducing his family to the pharaoh of Egypt. On the right, Joseph is riding on a rolling bench, as cherubs fill the composition around him in addition to other figures and large rocks on a path in the distance. Above these scenes, is a spiral staircase which Joseph guides one his sons to their mother at the top. The final scene, on the right, is the final stage of Jacob's death as his sons watch nearby.[31]

Jacopo da Pontormo's Joseph in Egypt features many Mannerist elements. One element is utilization of incongruous colors such as various shades of pinks and blues which make up a majority of the canvas. An additional element of Mannerism is the incoherent handling of time about the story of Joseph through various scenes and use of space. Through the inclusion of the four different narratives, Ponotormo creates a cluttered composition and overall sense of busyness.

Rosso Fiorentino and the School of Fontainebleau

Rosso Fiorentino, who had been a fellow pupil of Pontormo in the studio of Andrea del Sarto, in 1530 brought Florentine mannerism to Fontainebleau, where he became one of the founders of French 16th-century Mannerism, popularly known as the "School of Fontainebleau".

The examples of a rich and hectic decorative style at Fontainebleau further disseminated the Italian style through the medium of engravings, to Antwerp and from there throughout Northern Europe from London to Poland. Mannerist design was extended to luxury goods like silver and carved furniture. A sense of tense, controlled emotion expressed in elaborate symbolism and allegory, and an ideal of female beauty characterized by elongated proportions are features of this style.

Agnolo Bronzino

Angolo Bronzino was a pupil of Pontormo,[34] whose style was very influential and often confusing in terms of figuring out the attribution of many artworks.[34] During his career, Bronzino also collaborated with Vasari as a set designer for the production, "Comedy of Magicians", where he painted many portraits.[34] Bronzino's work was sought after, and he enjoyed great success when he became a court painter for the Medici family in 1539.[34] A unique Mannerist characteristic of Bronzino's work was the rendering of milky complexions.[34]

In the painting, Allegory of Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time, Bronzino portrays an erotic scene that leaves the viewer with more questions than answers. In the foreground, Cupid and Venus are nearly engaged in a kiss, but pause as if caught in the act. Above the pair, are mythological figures, Father Time on the right, who pulls a curtain to reveal the pair and the representation of the Goddess of night on the left. The composition also involves a grouping of masks, a hybrid creature composed of features of a girl and a serpent, and a man depicted in agonizing pain. Many theories are available for the painting, such as it conveying the dangers of syphilis, or that the painting functioned as a court game.[35]

Mannerist portraits by Agnolo Bronzino are distinguished by a serene elegance and meticulous attention to detail. As a result, Bronzino's sitters have been said to project an aloofness and marked emotional distance from the viewer. There is also a virtuosic concentration on capturing the precise pattern and sheen of rich textiles. Specifically, within the Allegory of Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time, Bronzino utilizes the tactics of Mannerist movement, attention to detail, color, and sculptural forms. Evidence of Mannerist movement is apparent in the awkward movements of Cupid and Venus, as they contort their bodies to partly embrace. Particularly, Bronzino paints the complexion with the many forms as a perfect porcelain white with a smooth effacement of their muscles which provides a reference to the smoothness of sculpture.

Alessandro Allori

Alessandro Allori's (1535–1607) Susanna and the Elders (below) is distinguished by latent eroticism and consciously brilliant still life detail, in a crowded, contorted composition.

Jacopo Tintoretto

Jacopo Tintoretto has been known for his vastly different contributions to Venetian painting after the legacy of Titian. His work, which differed greatly from his predecessors, had been criticized by Vasari for its, "fantastical, extravagant, bizarre style."[36] Within his work, Tinitoretto adopted Mannerist elements that have distanced him from the classical notion of Venetian painting, as he often created artworks which contained elements of fantasy and retained naturalism.[36] Other unique elements of Tintoretto's work include his attention to color through the regular utilization of rough brushstrokes[36] and experimentation with pigment to create illusion.[36]

An artwork that is associated with Mannerist characteristics is the Last Supper; it was commissioned by Michele Alabardi for the San Giorgio Maggiore in 1591.[36] In Tintoretto's Last Supper, the scene is portrayed from the angle of group of people along the right side of the composition. On the left side of the painting, Christ and the Apostles occupy one side of the table and single out Judas. Within the dark space, there are few sources of light; one source is emitted by Christ's halo and hanging torch above the table.  

In its distinct composition, the Last Supper portrays Mannerist characteristics. One characteristic that Tintoretto utilizes is a black background. Though the painting gives some indication of an interior space through the use of perspective, the edges of the composition are mostly shrouded in shadow which provides drama for the central scene of the Last Supper. Additionally, Tintoretto utilizes the spotlight effects with light, especially with the halo of Christ and the hanging torch above the table. A third Mannerist characteristic that Tintoretto employs are the atmospheric effects of figures shaped in smoke and float about the composition.  

El Greco

El Greco attempted to express religious emotion with exaggerated traits. After the realistic depiction of the human form and the mastery of perspective achieved in high Renaissance Classicism, some artists started to deliberately distort proportions in disjointed, irrational space for emotional and artistic effect. El Greco still is a deeply original artist. El Greco has been characterized by modern scholars as an artist so individual that he belongs to no conventional school.[5] Key aspects of Mannerism in El Greco include the jarring "acid" palette, elongated and tortured anatomy, irrational perspective and light, and obscure and troubling iconography.[37][38] El Greco's style was a culmination of unique developments based on his Greek heritage and travels to Spain and Italy.[39] El Greco's work reflects a multitude of styles including Byzantine elements as well as the influence of Caravaggio and Parmigianino in addition to Venetian coloring.[39] An important element of El Greco's work is his attention to color as he regarded it to be one of the most important aspects of his painting.[40] Over the course of his career, El Greco's work remained in high demand as he completed important commissions in locations such as the Colegio de la Encarnación de Madrid.[39]

El Greco’s unique painting style and connection to Mannerist characteristics is especially prevalent in the work, Laocoon. Painted in 1610[41] it depicts the mythological tale of Laocoon, who warned the Trojans about the danger of the wooden horse which was presented by the Greeks as peace offering to the goddess, Minerva. As a result, Minerva retaliated in revenge by summoning serpents to kill Laocoon and his two sons. Instead of being set against the backdrop of Troy, El Greco situated the scene near Toledo, Spain in order to, “universalize the story by drawing out its relevance for the contemporary world.”[41]

El Greco’s unique style in Laocoon exemplifies many Mannerist characteristics. One that they are prevalent is the elongation of many of the human forms throughout the composition in conjunction with their serpentine movement, which provides a sense of elegance. An additional element of Mannerist style is the atmospheric effects in which El Greco creates a hazy sky and blurring of landscape in the background.  

Benvenuto Cellini

Lavinia Fontana
Minerva Dressing (1613) by Lavinia Fontana (1552-1614). Galleria Borghese, Rome.

Benvenuto Cellini created the Cellini Salt Cellar of gold and enamel in 1540 featuring Poseidon and Amphitrite (water and earth) placed in uncomfortable positions and with elongated proportions. It is considered a masterpiece of Mannerist sculpture.

Lavinia Fontana

Lavinia Fontana (1552-1614) was a Mannerist portraitist often acknowledged to be the first female career artist in Western Europe.[42] She was appointed to be the Portraitist in Ordinary at the Vatican.[43] Her style is characterized as being influenced by the Carracci family of painters by the colors of the Venetian School. She is known for her portraits of noblewomen, and for her depiction of nude figures, which was unusual for a woman of her time.[44]

Joachim Wtewael

Joachim Wtewael (1566–1638) continued to paint in a Northern Mannerist style until the end of his life, ignoring the arrival of the Baroque, and making him perhaps the last significant Mannerist artist still to be working. His subjects included large scenes with still life in the manner of Pieter Aertsen, and mythological scenes, many small cabinet paintings beautifully executed on copper, and most featuring nudity.

Giuseppe Arcimboldo

Giuseppe Arcimboldo is most readily known for his artworks that incorporate still life and portraiture.[45] His style is readily viewed as Mannerist with the assemblage style of fruits and vegetables in which its composition can be depicted in various ways—ride side up and upside down.[45] Arcimboldo's artworks have also applied to Mannerism in terms of humor that it conveys to viewers, because it does not hold the same degree of seriousness as Renaissance works.[45] Stylistically, Arcimboldo's paintings are known for their attention to nature and concept of a "monstrous appearance."[45]

One of Arcimboldo's paintings which contains various Mannerist characteristics is, Vertumnus. Painted against a black background is a portrait of Rudolf II, whose body is composed of various vegetables, flowers, and fruits.[45] The painting is viewed as various levels as a joke and conveying a serious message. The joke of the painting communicates the humor of power which, is that Rudolf II is hiding a dark inner self behind his public image.[45] On the other hand, the serious tone of the painting foreshadows the good fortune that would be prevalent during the reign of Rudolf II.[45]

Vertumnus contains various Mannerist elements in terms of its composition and message. One element is the flat, black background which Arcimboldo utilizes to emphasize the status and identity of Rudolf II as well as highlighting the fantasy of his reign. In the portrait of Rudolf II, Arcimboldo also strays away from the "naturalistic representation" of the Renaissance, and explores the construction of composition by rendering him from a jumble of fruits, vegetables, plants and flowers. Another element of Mannerism which the painting portrays is the dual narrative of a joke and serious message; humor wasn't normally utilized in Renaissance artworks.

Jacopo Pontormo 032

Jacopo Pontormo Joseph in Egypt, 1515–18; Oil on wood; 96 x 109 cm; National Gallery, London

Fontainebleau interior francois I gallery 02

Rosso Fiorentino, Francois I Gallery, Château de Fontainebleau, France

AN00056627 001 l Caraglio Juno in niche

Juno in a niche, engraving by Jacopo Caraglio, probably from a drawing of 1526 by Rosso Fiorentino

Arcimboldo, Giuseppe ~ Autumn, 1573, oil on canvas, Musée du Louvre, Paris

Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Autumn, 1573, oil on canvas, Louvre Museum, Paris

Vertumnus årstidernas gud målad av Giuseppe Arcimboldo 1591 - Skoklosters slott - 91503.tiff

Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Vertumnus the god of seasons, 1591, Skokloster Castle

Alessandro Allori - Susanna and The Elders - WGA00186

Alessandro Allori, Susanna and the elders


El Greco, Baptism

El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos) - Laocoön - Google Art Project

El Greco, Laocoon [1610-1614], National Gallery of Art

Mannerist architecture

Haarlem Vleeshal1
The Vleeshal in Haarlem, Netherlands
Piękne niebo nad ratuszem w Zamościu
The Town Hall in Zamość, Poland, designed by Bernardo Morando.

Mannerist architecture was characterized by visual trickery and unexpected elements that challenged the renaissance norms.[46] Flemish artists, many of whom had traveled to Italy and were influenced by Mannerist developments there, were responsible for the spread of Mannerist trends into Europe north of the Alps, including into the realm of architecture.[47] During the period, architects experimented with using architectural forms to emphasize solid and spatial relationships. The Renaissance ideal of harmony gave way to freer and more imaginative rhythms. The best known architect associated with the Mannerist style, and a pioneer at the Laurentian Library, was Michelangelo (1475–1564).[48] He is credited with inventing the giant order, a large pilaster that stretches from the bottom to the top of a façade.[49] He used this in his design for the Campidoglio in Rome.

Prior to the 20th century, the term Mannerism had negative connotations, but it is now used to describe the historical period in more general non-judgmental terms.[50] Mannerist architecture has also been used to describe a trend in the 1960s and 1970s that involved breaking the norms of modernist architecture while at the same time recognizing their existence.[51] Defining mannerist in this context, architect and author Robert Venturi wrote "Mannerism for architecture of our time that acknowledges conventional order rather than original expression but breaks the conventional order to accommodate complexity and contradiction and thereby engages ambiguity unambiguously."[51]

Renaissance examples

An example of Mannerist architecture is the Villa Farnese at Caprarola.[52] in the rugged country side outside of Rome. The proliferation of engravers during the 16th century spread Mannerist styles more quickly than any previous styles.

Dense with ornament of "Roman" detailing, the display doorway at Colditz Castle exemplifies this northern style, characteristically applied as an isolated "set piece" against unpretentious vernacular walling.

From the late 1560s onwards, many buildings in Valletta, the new capital city of Malta, were designed by the architect Girolamo Cassar in the Mannerist style. Such buildings include St. John's Co-Cathedral, the Grandmaster's Palace and the seven original auberges. Many of Cassar's buildings were modified over the years, especially in the Baroque period. However, a few buildings, such as Auberge d'Aragon and the exterior of St. John's Co-Cathedral, still retain most of Cassar's original Mannerist design.[53]

Palazzo Te Mantova 1

One of the best examples of Mannerist architecture - Palazzo Te in Mantova, designed by Giulio Romano


Giulio Romano, Pallazo Ducale in Mantova


Own house of Giulio Romano in Mantova

Palazzo Massimo alle Colonne

Baldassare Peruzzi, Palazzo Massimo alle Colonne in Rome

Biblioteca laurenziana, vestibolo 04

Michelangelo, vestibule of Laurentian Library

St Johns Co-Cathedral

St. John's Co-Cathedral in Valletta, Malta

Mannerism in literature and music

In English literature, Mannerism is commonly identified with the qualities of the "Metaphysical" poets of whom the most famous is John Donne. The witty sally of a Baroque writer, John Dryden, against the verse of Donne in the previous generation, affords a concise contrast between Baroque and Mannerist aims in the arts:

He affects the metaphysics, not only in his satires but in his amorous verses, where nature only should reign; and perplexes the minds of the fair sex with nice[54] speculations of philosophy when he should engage their hearts and entertain them with the softnesses of love.[55]:15 (italics added)

The rich musical possibilities in the poetry of the late 16th and early 17th centuries provided an attractive basis for the madrigal, which quickly rose to prominence as the pre-eminent musical form in Italian musical culture, as discussed by Tim Carter:

The madrigal, particularly in its aristocratic guise, was obviously a vehicle for the ‘stylish style’ of Mannerism, with poets and musicians revelling in witty conceits and other visual, verbal and musical tricks to delight the connoisseur.[56]

The word Mannerism has also been used to describe the style of highly florid and contrapuntally complex polyphonic music made in France in the late 14th century.[57] This period is now usually referred to as the ars subtilior.

Mannerism and theatre

The Early Commedia dell'Arte (1550–1621): The Mannerist Context by Paul Castagno discusses Mannerism's effect on the contemporary professional theatre.[58] Castagno's was the first study to define a theatrical form as Mannerist, employing the vocabulary of Mannerism and maniera to discuss the typification, exaggerated, and effetto meraviglioso of the comici dell'arte. See Part II of the above book for a full discussion of Mannerist characteristics in the commedia dell'arte. The study is largely iconographic, presenting a pictorial evidence that many of the artists who painted or printed commedia images were in fact, coming from the workshops of the day, heavily ensconced in the maniera tradition.

The preciosity in Jacques Callot's minute engravings seem to belie a much larger scale of action. Callot's Balli di Sfessania (literally, dance of the buttocks) celebrates the commedia's blatant eroticism, with protruding phalli, spears posed with the anticipation of a comic ream, and grossly exaggerated masks that mix the bestial with human. The eroticism of the innamorate (lovers) including the baring of breasts, or excessive veiling, was quite in vogue in the paintings and engravings from the second school at Fontainebleau, particularly those that detect a Franco-Flemish influence. Castagno demonstrates iconographic linkages between genre painting and the figures of the commedia dell'arte that demonstrate how this theatrical form was embedded within the cultural traditions of the late cinquecento.[59]

Commedia dell'arte, disegno interno, and the discordia concors

Important corollaries exist between the disegno interno, which substituted for the disegno esterno (external design) in Mannerist painting. This notion of projecting a deeply subjective view as superseding nature or established principles (perspective, for example), in essence, the emphasis away from the object to its subject, now emphasizing execution, displays of virtuosity, or unique techniques. This inner vision is at the heart of commedia performance. For example, in the moment of improvisation the actor expresses his virtuosity without heed to formal boundaries, decorum, unity, or text. Arlecchino became emblematic of the mannerist discordia concors (the union of opposites), at one moment he would be gentle and kind, then, on a dime, become a thief violently acting out with his battle. Arlecchino could be graceful in movement, only in the next beat, to clumsily trip over his feet. Freed from the external rules, the actor celebrated the evanescence of the moment; much the way Cellini would dazzle his patrons by draping his sculptures, unveiling them with lighting effects and a sense of the marvelous. The presentation of the object became as important as the object itself.


According to art critic Jerry Saltz, "Neo-Mannerism" (new Mannerism) is among several clichés that are "squeezing the life out of the art world".[60] Neo-Mannerism describes art of the 21st century that is turned out by students whose academic teachers "have scared [them] into being pleasingly meek, imitative, and ordinary".[60]

See also


  1. ^ A World history of architecture and Mannerism: the painting and style of the Late Renaissance
  2. ^ Freedberg 1971, 483.
  3. ^ a b c d Gombrich 1995,.
  4. ^ "Mannerism: Bronzino (1503–1572) and his Contemporaries". Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Art and Illusion, E. H. Gombrich, ISBN 9780691070001
  6. ^ "the-mannerist-style".
  7. ^ John Shearman, “Maniera as an Aesthetic Ideal”, in Cheney 2004, 37.
  8. ^ Cheney 1997, 17.
  9. ^ Briganti 1961, 6.
  10. ^ a b Mirollo 1984,
  11. ^ Shearman 1967.
  12. ^ Grossmann 1965.
  13. ^ Smyth 1962, 1–2.
  14. ^ Cheney, "Preface", xxv–xxxii, and Manfred Wundram, "Mannerism," Grove Art Online. Oxford University Press, [accessed 23 April 2008].
  15. ^ "The brilliant neurotics of the late Renaissance". The Spectator. 17 May 2014. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  16. ^ Friedländer 1965,
  17. ^ a b Freedberg 1993, 175–77.
  18. ^ a b Giorgio Vasari, Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects
  19. ^ Friedländer 1965,.
  20. ^ Manfred Wundram, "Mannerism," Grove Art Online. Oxford University Press, [accessed 23 April 2008].
  21. ^ Freedberg 1965.
  22. ^ Shearman 1967, p. 19
  23. ^ Briganti 1961, 32–33
  24. ^ Briganti 1961, 13.
  25. ^ Friedländer 1957,.
  26. ^ Summerson 1983, 157–72.
  27. ^ Olson, 179–182
  28. ^ Olson, 183–187
  29. ^ Olson, 182–183
  30. ^ Olson, 194–202
  31. ^ a b c d e f g h Marchetti Letta, Elisabetta (1995). Pontormo, Rosso Fiorentino. Constable. p. 6. ISBN 0094745501. OCLC 642761547.
  32. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Smart, Alastair (1972). The Renaissance and Mannerism in Northern Europe and Spain. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. p. 118.
  33. ^ a b c Cox-Rearick, Janet. ""Pontormo, Jacopo da."". Grove Art Online. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  34. ^ a b c d e Cecchi, Alessandro; Bronzino, Agnolo; vans, Christopher E (1996). Bronzino. Antella, Florence: The Library of Great Masters. p. 20.
  35. ^ Stokstad, Marilyn; Cothren, Michael Watt (2011). Art History. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall. p. 663.
  36. ^ a b c d e Nichols, Tom. Tintoretto : tradition and identity. p. 234. ISBN 9781780234816. OCLC 970358992.
  37. ^ "National Gallery of Art – El Greco". Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  38. ^ "Metropolitan Museum of Art El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos) (1541–1614)". Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  39. ^ a b c Marías, Fernando (2003). "Greco, El". Grove Art Online. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  40. ^ Lambraki-Plaka, Marina. El Greco-The Greek. Kastaniotis. pp. 47–49. ISBN 960-03-2544-8.
  41. ^ a b Davies, David; Greco; J. H, Elliott (2003). El Greco. London: National Gallery Company. p. 245. |first4= missing |last4= (help); |first5= missing |last5= (help)
  42. ^ Murphy, Caroline (2003). Lavinia Fontana : a painter and her patrons in sixteenth-century Bologna. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0300099134. OCLC 50478433.
  43. ^ Self-portraits by women painters. Cheney, Liana., Faxon, Alicia Craig., Russo, Kathleen Lucey. Aldershot, Hants, England: Ashgate. 2000. ISBN 1859284248. OCLC 40453030.CS1 maint: others (link)
  44. ^ "Lavinia Fontana's nude Minervas. - Free Online Library". Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  45. ^ a b c d e f g Kaufmann, Thomas DaCosta (2010). Arcimboldo. University of Chicago Press. p. 167. ISBN 9780226426877.
  46. ^ "Style Guide: Mannerism". Victoria and Albert. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
  47. ^ Wundram, Manfred (1996). Dictionary of Art. Grove. p. 281.
  48. ^ Peitcheva, Maria (22 March 2016). Michelangelo: 240 Colour Plates. Foreword. ISBN 9788892577916.
  49. ^ Mark Jarzombek, "Pilaster Play" (PDF), Thresholds, 28 (Winter 2005): 34–41
  50. ^ Arnold Hauser. Mannerism: The Crisis of the Renaissance and the Origins of Modern Art. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press,1965).
  51. ^ a b Venturi, Robert. "Architecture as Signs and Systems" (PDF). Retrieved 11 January 2015.
  52. ^ Coffin David, The Villa in the Life of Renaissance Rome, Princeton University Press, 1979: 281–85
  53. ^ Ellul, Michael (2004). "In search of Girolamo Cassar: An unpublished manuscript at the State Archives of Lucca" (PDF). Melita Historica. XIV (1): 37. ISSN 1021-6952. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 March 2016.
  54. ^ 'Nice' in the sense of 'finely reasoned.'
  55. ^ Gardner, Helen (1957). Metaphysical Poets. Oxford University Press, London. ISBN 9780140420388. Retrieved 15 August 2014.
  56. ^ Carter 1991, 128.
  57. ^ Apel 1946–47, 20.
  58. ^ Castagno 1992,.
  59. ^ Castagno 1994,.
  60. ^ a b Saltz, Jerry (10 October 2013). "Jerry Saltz on Art's Insidious New Cliché: Neo-Mannerism". Vulture. Retrieved 16 August 2014.


  • Apel, Willi. 1946–47. "The French Secular Music of the Late Fourteenth Century". Acta Musicologica 18: 17–29.
  • Briganti, Giuliano. 1962. Italian Mannerism, translated from the Italian by Margaret Kunzle. London: Thames and Hudson; Princeton: Van Nostrand; Leipzig: VEB Edition. (Originally published in Italian, as La maniera italiana, La pittura italiana 10. Rome: Editori Riuniti, 1961).
  • Carter, Tim. 1991. Music in Late Renaissance and Early Baroque Italy. London: Amadeus Press. ISBN 0-9313-4053-5
  • Castagno, Paul C. 1994. The Early Commedia Dell'arte (1550–1621): The Mannerist Context. New York: P. Lang. ISBN 0-8204-1794-7.
  • Cheney, Liana de Girolami (ed.). 2004. Readings in Italian Mannerism, second printing, with a foreword by Craig Hugh Smyth. New York: Peter Lang. ISBN 0-8204-7063-5. (Previous edition, without the forward by Smyth, New York: Peter Lang, 1997. ISBN 0-8204-2483-8).
  • Cox-Rearick, Janet. "Pontormo, Jacopo da." Grove Art Online.11 Apr. 2019.
  • Davies, David, Greco, J. H Elliott, Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.), and National Gallery (Great Britain). El Greco. London: National Gallery Company, 2003.
  • Freedberg, Sidney J. 1965. "Observations on the Painting of the Maniera". Reprinted in Cheney 2004, 116–23.
  • Freedberg, Sidney J. 1971. Painting in Italy, 1500–1600, first edition. The Pelican History of Art. Harmondsworth and Baltimore: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-056035-1
  • Freedberg, Sidney J. 1993. Painting in Italy, 1500–1600, 3rd edition, New Haven and London: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-05586-2 (cloth) ISBN 0-300-05587-0 (pbk)
  • Friedländer, Walter. 1965. Mannerism and Anti-Mannerism in Italian Painting. New York: Schocken. LOC 578295 (First edition, New York: Columbia University Press, 1958.)
  • Gombrich, E[rnst] H[ans]. 1995. The Story of Art, sixteenth edition. London: Phaidon Press. ISBN 0-7148-3247-2.
  • Kaufmann, Thomas DaCosta. Arcimboldo : Visual Jokes, Natural History, and Still-Life Painting. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010. Accessed April 11, 2019. ProQuest Ebook Central.
  • Lambraki-Plaka, Marina (1999). El Greco-The Greek. Kastaniotis. ISBN 960-03-2544-8.
  • Marchetti Letta, Elisabetta, Jacopo Da Pontormo, and Rosso Fiorentino. Pontormo, Rosso Fiorentino. The Library of Great Masters. Antella, Florence: Scala, 199
  • Marías, Fernando. 2003 "Greco, El." Grove Art Online. 2 Apr. 2019.
  • Mirollo, James V. 1984. Mannerism and Renaissance Poetry: Concept, Mode, Inner Design. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-03227-7.
  • Nichols, Tom. Tintoretto : Tradition and Identity. London: Reaktion, 1999.
  • Shearman, John K. G. 1967. Mannerism. Style and Civilization. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Reprinted, London and New York: Penguin, 1990. ISBN 0-14-013759-9
  • Olson, Roberta J.M., Italian Renaissance Sculpture, 1992, Thames & Hudson (World of Art), ISBN 9780500202531
  • Smart, Alastair. The Renaissance and Mannerism in Northern Europe and Spain. The Harbrace History of Art. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1972.
  • Smyth, Craig Hugh. 1992. Mannerism and Maniera, with an introduction by Elizabeth Cropper. Vienna: IRSA. ISBN 3-900731-33-0.
  • Summerson, John. 1983. Architecture in Britain 1530–1830, 7th revised and enlarged (3rd integrated) edition. The Pelican History of Art.

Harmondsworth and New York: Penguin. ISBN 0-14-056003-3 (cased) ISBN 0-14-056103-X (pbk) [Reprinted with corrections, 1986; 8th edition, Harmondsworth and New York: Penguin, 1991.]

  • Stokstad, Marilyn, and Michael Watt Cothren. Art History. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2011.

Further reading

  • Gardner, Helen Louise. 1972. The Metaphysical Poets, Selected and Edited, revised edition. Introduction. Harmondsworth, England; New York: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-042038-X.
  • Grossmann F. 1965. Between Renaissance and Baroque: European Art: 1520–1600. Manchester City Art Gallery
  • Hall, Marcia B . 2001. After Raphael: Painting in Central Italy in the Sixteenth Century, Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-48397-2.
  • Pinelli, Antonio. 1993. La bella maniera: artisti del Cinquecento tra regola e licenza. Turin: Piccola biblioteca Einaudi. ISBN 88-06-13137-0
  • Sypher, Wylie. 1955. Four Stages of Renaissance Style: Transformations in Art and Literature, 1400–1700. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday. A classic analysis of Renaissance, Mannerism, Baroque, and Late Baroque.
  • Würtenberger, Franzsepp. 1963. Mannerism: The European Style of the Sixteenth Century. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston (Originally published in German, as Der Manierismus; der europäische Stil des sechzehnten Jahrhunderts. Vienna: A. Schroll, 1962).

External links

Antwerp Mannerism

Antwerp Mannerism is the name given to the style of a group of largely anonymous painters active in the Southern Netherlands and principally in Antwerp in the beginning of the 16th century. The style bore no relation to Renaissance or Italian Mannerism, but the name suggests a peculiarity that was a reaction to the "classic" style of the earlier Flemish painters.

Architectural style

An architectural style is characterized by the features that make a building or other structure notable or historically identifiable. It is a sub-class of style in the visual arts generally, and most styles in architecture related closely to the wider contemporary artistic style. A style may include such elements as form, method of construction, building materials, and regional character. Most architecture can be classified within a chronology of styles which changes over time reflecting changing fashions, beliefs and religions, or the emergence of new ideas, technology, or materials which make new styles possible.

Styles therefore emerge from the history of a society. They are documented in the subject of architectural history. At any time several styles may be fashionable, and when a style changes it usually does so gradually, as architects learn and adapt to new ideas. The new style is sometimes only a rebellion against an existing style, such as post-modernism (meaning "after modernism"), which has in recent years found its own language and split into a number of styles which have acquired other names.

Styles often spread to other places, so that the style at its source continues to develop in new ways while other countries follow with their own twist. For instance, Renaissance ideas emerged in Italy around 1425 and spread to all of Europe over the next 200 years, with the French, German, English, and Spanish Renaissances showing recognisably the same style, but with unique characteristics. A style may also spread through colonialism, either by foreign colonies learning from their home country, or by settlers moving to a new land. One example is the Spanish missions in California, brought by Spanish priests in the late 18th century and built in a unique style.

After a style has gone out of fashion, revivals and re-interpretations may occur. For instance, classicism has been revived many times and found new life as neoclassicism. Each time it is revived, it is different. The Spanish mission style was revived 100 years later as the Mission Revival, and that soon evolved into the Spanish Colonial Revival.

Vernacular architecture is listed separately. As vernacular architecture is better understood as suggestive of culture, writ broadly (as well as a theory and a process rather than a thing-in-itself), it technically can encompass every architectural style--or none at all. In and of itself, vernacular architecture is not a style.

Ars subtilior

Ars subtilior (more subtle art) is a musical style characterized by rhythmic and notational complexity, centered on Paris, Avignon in southern France, and also in northern Spain at the end of the fourteenth century. The style also is found in the French Cypriot repertory. Often the term is used in contrast with ars nova, which applies to the musical style of the preceding period from about 1310 to about 1370; though some scholars prefer to consider the ars subtilior a subcategory of the earlier style. Primary sources for the ars subtilior are the Chantilly Codex, the Modena Codex (Mod A M 5.24), and the Turin Manuscript (Torino J.II.9).

Art of the Low Countries

The art of the Low Countries consists of painting, sculpture, architecture, printmaking, pottery and other forms of visual art produced in the Low Countries, and since the 19th century in Belgium in the southern Netherlands and the Netherlands in the north.

From the late Middle Ages until about 1700 the Low Countries were a leading force in the art of northern Europe, thereafter becoming less important. In the earlier High Middle Ages Mosan art, from an area partly in the Low Countries, had had a similar role.

The art of the Low Countries includes the traditions of Early Netherlandish painting and the Renaissance in the Low Countries, before the political separation of the region. After the separation, a protracted process lasting between 1568 and 1648, Dutch Golden Age painting in the north and Flemish Baroque painting, especially the art of Peter Paul Rubens, were the cornerstones of art.


The cultural and artistic events of Italy during the period 1500 to 1599 are collectively referred to as the Cinquecento (Italian pronunciation: [ˌtʃiŋkweˈtʃɛnto]), from the Italian for the number 500, in turn from millecinquecento, which is Italian for the year 1500. Cinquecento encompasses the styles and events of the High Italian Renaissance, Mannerism and some early exponents of the Baroque-style.

Cusco School

The Cusco School (Escuela Cuzqueña) or Cuzco School, was a Roman Catholic artistic tradition based in Cusco, Peru (the former capital of the Inca Empire) during the Colonial period, in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. It was not limited to Cuzco only, but spread to other cities in the Andes, as well as to present day Ecuador and Bolivia.There are high amount of Cusco School's paintings preserved, currently most of them are located at Cusco, but also currently there are in the rest of Peru and in museums of Brazil, England and United States.

Elizabethan architecture

Elizabethan architecture refers to buildings of aesthetic ambition constructed during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England and Ireland from 1558–1603. Historically, the era sits between the long era of dominant architectural patronage of ecclesiastical buildings by the Catholic Church which ended abruptly at the Dissolution of the Monasteries from c.1536, and the advent of a court culture of pan-European artistic ambition under James I (1603–25). Stylistically, Elizabethan architecture is notably pluralistic. It came at the end of insular traditions in design and construction called the Perpendicular style in church building, the fenestration, vaulting techniques and open truss designs of which often affected the detail of larger domestic buildings. However, English design had become open to the influence of early printed architectural texts (namely Vitruvius and Alberti) imported to England by ecclesiasts as early as the 1480s. Into the 16th century, illustrated continental pattern-books introduced a wide range of architectural examplars, fuelled by the archaeology of classical Rome which inspired myriad printed designs of increasing elaboration and abstraction. As church building turned to the construction of great houses for courtiers and merchants, these novelties accompanied a nostalgia for native history as well as huge divisions in religious identity, plus the influence of continental mercantile and civic buildings. Insular traditions of construction, detail and materials never entirely disappeared. These varied influences on patrons who could favour conservatism or great originality confound attempts to neatly classify Elizabethan architecture. This era of cultural upheaval and fusions corresponds to what is often termed Mannerism and Late Cinquecento in Italy, French Renaissance architecture in France, and the Plateresque style in Spain.In contrast to her father Henry VIII, Elizabeth commissioned no new royal palaces, and very few new churches were built, but there was a great boom in building domestic houses for the well-off, largely due to the redistribution of ecclesiastical lands after the Dissolution. The most characteristic type, for the very well-off, is the showy prodigy house, using styles and decoration derived from Northern Mannerism, but with elements retaining signifiers of medieval castles, such as the normally busy roofline.

Europa regina

Europa regina, Latin for Queen Europe, is the map-like depiction of the European continent as a queen. Made popular in the 1500s, the map shows Europe standing upright, with the Iberian Peninsula forming her crowned head, and Bohemia her heart.


In architecture the frieze is the wide central section part of an entablature and may be plain in the Ionic or Doric order, or decorated with bas-reliefs. Even when neither columns nor pilasters are expressed, on an astylar wall it lies upon the architrave ('main beam') and is capped by the moldings of the cornice. A frieze can be found on many Greek and Roman buildings, the Parthenon Frieze being the most famous, and perhaps the most elaborate. This style is typical for the Persians.

In interiors, the frieze of a room is the section of wall above the picture rail and under the crown moldings or cornice. By extension, a frieze is a long stretch of painted, sculpted or even calligraphic decoration in such a position, normally above eye-level. Frieze decorations may depict scenes in a sequence of discrete panels. The material of which the frieze is made of may be plasterwork, carved wood or other decorative medium.In an example of an architectural frieze on the façade of a building, the octagonal Tower of the Winds in the Roman agora at Athens bears relief sculptures of the eight winds on its frieze.

A pulvinated frieze (or pulvino) is convex in section. Such friezes were features of 17th-century Northern Mannerism, especially in subsidiary friezes, and much employed in interior architecture and in furniture.

The concept of a frieze has been generalized in the mathematical construction of frieze patterns.

Henry II style

The Henry II style was the chief artistic movement of the sixteenth century in France, part of Northern Mannerism. It came immediately after High Renaissance and was largely the product of Italian influences. Francis I and his daughter-in-law, Catherine de' Medici, had imported to France a number Italian artists of Raphael's or Michelangelo's school; the Frenchmen who followed them in working in the Mannerist idiom. Besides the work of Italians in France, many Frenchman picked up Italianisms while studying art in Italy during the middle of the century. The Henry II style, though named after Henry II of France, in fact lasted from about 1530 until 1590 under five French monarchs, their mistresses and their queens.

The most lasting products of the Henry II style were architectural. First Rosso Fiorentino and then Francesco Primaticcio and Sebastiano Serlio served Henry II as court artisans, constructing his gallery and the Aile de la Belle Cheminée (1568). The French architect Pierre Lescot and the sculptor Jean Goujon rebuilt the Palais du Louvre around the now famous square court. The Château d'Anet, commissioned by Diane de Poitiers, mistress of Henry II, was designed by Philibert Delorme, who studied in Rome. The very mannerist château housed a statue of Diana by Benvenuto Cellini, who was working in France. In 1564 Delorme began work on the Tuileries, the most outstanding Parisian palais of the Henry II style. It too exhibited a mannerist treatment of classical themes, for which Delorm had developed his own "French order" of columns.

Jean Bullant, another architect who studied in Rome, also produced designs that combined classical "themes" in a mannerist structure. The Château d'Écouen and the Château de Chantilly, both for Anne de Montmorency, exemplify the Henry II-style château, which was proliferating among the nobility. A very thorough catalogue of engravings of sixteenth-century French architecture was produced by Jacques Androuet du Cerceau the Elder under the title Les plus excellents bastiments de France (between 1576 and 1579, in two volumes). Much of the buildings so engraved have been destroyed (like the Tuileries) or significantly altered (like Écouen), so that Cerceau's reproductions are the best guide to the Henry II style.

In painting, like in architecture, the French were influenced by Italian mannerism and many Italian painters and sculptors were active members of the First School of Fontainebleau, which in turn produced an active and talented crop of native painters and sculptors, such as Germain Pilon and Juste de Juste. By the end of the century the Henry II style, a Gallicised form of Italian mannerism, had been replaced by a more consistent classicism, with hints of the coming Baroque. Its immediately successor in French art historiography is the Henry IV style.

High Renaissance

In art history, the High Renaissance is a short period of the most exceptional artistic production in the Italian states, particularly Rome, capital of the Papal States, and in Florence, during the Italian Renaissance. Most art historians state that the High Renaissance started around 1495 or 1500 and ended in 1520 with the death of Raphael, although some say the High Renaissance ended about 1525, or in 1527 with the Sack of Rome by the army of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, or about 1530 (see next section for specific art historians’ positions). The best-known exponents of painting, sculpture and architecture of the High Renaissance include Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and Bramante. In recent years, the use of the term has been frequently criticized by some academic art historians for oversimplifying artistic developments, ignoring historical context, and focusing only on a few iconic works.

Louis XIII style

The Louis XIII style or Louis Treize was a fashion in French art and architecture, especially affecting the visual and decorative arts. Its distinctness as a period in the history of French art has much to do with the regency under which Louis XIII began his reign (1610–1643). His mother and regent, Marie de' Medici, imported mannerism from her homeland of Italy and the influence of Italian art was to be strongly felt for several decades.

Louis XIII-style painting was influenced from the north, through Flemish and Dutch Baroque, and from the south, through Italian mannerism and early Baroque. Schools developed around Caravaggio and Peter Paul Rubens. Among the French painters who blended Italian mannerism with a love of genre scenes were Georges de La Tour, Simon Vouet, and the Le Nain brothers. The influence of the painters on subsequent generations, however, was minimised by the rise of classicism under Nicolas Poussin and his followers.

Louis XIII architecture was equally influenced by Italian styles. The greatest French architect of the era, Salomon de Brosse, designed the Palais du Luxembourg for Marie de' Medici. De Brosse began a tradition of classicism in architecture that was continued by Jacques Lemercier, who completed the Palais and whose own most famous work of the Louis XIII period is the chapel of the Sorbonne (1635). Under the next generation of architects, French Baroque would take an even greater classical shift.

Furniture of the period was typically large and austere.

Mannerist architecture and sculpture in Poland

Mannerist architecture and sculpture in Poland dominated between 1550 and 1650, when it was finally replaced with baroque. The style includes various mannerist traditions, which are closely related with ethnic and religious diversity of the country, as well as with its economic and political situation at that time. The mannerist complex of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska and mannerist City of Zamość are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.


Moresque is an obsolete alternative term to "Moorish" in English, and in the arts has some specific meanings. By itself the word is used of stylized plant-based forms of tendrils and leaves found in ornament and decoration in the applied arts in Renaissance Europe that are derived from the arabesque patterns of Islamic ornament. Like their Islamic ancestors, they differ from the typical European plant scroll in being many-branched and spreading rather than forming a line in one direction. The use of half-leaves with their longest side running along the stem is typical for both.

First found in 15th-century Italy, especially Venice, moresques continue in the Mannerist and Northern Mannerist styles of the 16th century.

Northern Mannerism

Northern Mannerism is the form of Mannerism found in the visual arts north of the Alps in the 16th and early 17th centuries. Styles largely derived from Italian Mannerism were found in the Netherlands and elsewhere from around the mid-century, especially Mannerist ornament in architecture; this article concentrates on those times and places where Northern Mannerism generated its most original and distinctive work.

The three main centres of the style were in France, especially in the period 1530–50, in Prague from 1576, and in the Netherlands from the 1580s—the first two phases very much led by royal patronage. In the last 15 years of the century, the style, by then becoming outdated in Italy, was widespread across northern Europe, spread in large part through prints. In painting, it tended to recede rapidly in the new century, under the new influence of Caravaggio and the early Baroque, but in architecture and the decorative arts, its influence was more sustained.

Old Master

In art history, "Old Master" (or "old master") refers to any painter of skill who worked in Europe before about 1800, or a painting by such an artist. An "old master print" is an original print (for example an engraving or etching) made by an artist in the same period. The term "old master drawing" is used in the same way.

In theory, "Old Master" applies only to artists who were fully trained, were Masters of their local artists' guild, and worked independently, but in practice, paintings produced by pupils or workshops are often included in the scope of the term. Therefore, beyond a certain level of competence, date rather than quality is the criterion for using the term.

Renaissance architecture

Renaissance architecture is the European architecture of the period between the early 14th and early 16th centuries in different regions, demonstrating a conscious revival and development of certain elements of ancient Greek and Roman thought and material culture. Stylistically, Renaissance architecture followed Gothic architecture and was succeeded by Baroque architecture. Developed first in Florence, with Filippo Brunelleschi as one of its innovators, the Renaissance style quickly spread to other Italian cities. In particular Venetian Renaissance architecture had a very distinct character. The style was carried to France, Germany, England, Russia and other parts of Europe at different dates and with varying degrees of impact.

Renaissance style places emphasis on symmetry, proportion, geometry and the regularity of parts, as they are demonstrated in the architecture of classical antiquity and in particular ancient Roman architecture, of which many examples remained. Orderly arrangements of columns, pilasters and lintels, as well as the use of semicircular arches, hemispherical domes, niches and aedicula replaced the more complex proportional systems and irregular profiles of medieval buildings.

Renaissance music

Renaissance music is vocal and instrumental music written and performed in Europe during the Renaissance era. Consensus among music historians has been to start the era around 1400, with the end of the medieval era, and to close it around 1600, with the beginning of the Baroque period, therefore commencing the musical Renaissance about a hundred years after the beginning of the Renaissance as it is understood in other disciplines. As in the other arts, the music of the period was significantly influenced by the developments which define the Early Modern period: the rise of humanistic thought; the recovery of the literary and artistic heritage of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome; increased innovation and discovery; the growth of commercial enterprises; the rise of a bourgeois class; and the Protestant Reformation. From this changing society emerged a common, unifying musical language, in particular, the polyphonic style (this means music with multiple, independent melody lines performed simultaneously) of the Franco-Flemish school, whose greatest master was Josquin des Prez.

The invention of the printing press in 1439 made it cheaper and easier to distribute music and musical theory texts on a wider geographic scale and to more people. Prior to the invention of printing, written music and music-theory texts had to be hand-copied, a time-consuming and expensive process. Demand for music as entertainment and as a leisure activity for educated amateurs increased with the emergence of a bourgeois class. Dissemination of chansons, motets, and masses throughout Europe coincided with the unification of polyphonic practice into the fluid style which culminated in the second half of the sixteenth century in the work of composers such as Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Orlande de Lassus, Thomas Tallis and William Byrd. Relative political stability and prosperity in the Low Countries, along with a flourishing system of music education in the area's many churches and cathedrals allowed the training of large numbers of singers, instrumentalists, and composers. These musicians were highly sought throughout Europe, particularly in Italy, where churches and aristocratic courts hired them as composers, performers, and teachers. Since the printing press made it easier to disseminate printed music, by the end of the 16th century, Italy had absorbed the northern musical influences with Venice, Rome, and other cities becoming centers of musical activity. This reversed the situation from a hundred years earlier. Opera, a dramatic staged genre in which singers are accompanied by instruments, arose at this time in Florence. Opera was developed as a deliberate attempt to resurrect the music of ancient Greece (OED 2005).

Music was increasingly freed from medieval constraints, and more variety was permitted in range, rhythm, harmony, form, and notation. On the other hand, rules of counterpoint became more constrained, particularly with regard to treatment of dissonances. In the Renaissance, music became a vehicle for personal expression. Composers found ways to make vocal music more expressive of the texts they were setting. Secular music (non-religious music) absorbed techniques from sacred music, and vice versa. Popular secular forms such as the chanson and madrigal spread throughout Europe. Courts employed virtuoso performers, both singers and instrumentalists. Music also became more self-sufficient with its availability in printed form, existing for its own sake. Precursor versions of many familiar modern instruments (including the violin, guitar, lute and keyboard instruments) developed into new forms during the Renaissance. These instruments were modified to responding to the evolution of musical ideas, and they presented new possibilities for composers and musicians to explore. Early forms of modern woodwind and brass instruments like the bassoon and trombone also appeared; extending the range of sonic color and increasing the sound of instrumental ensembles. During the 15th century, the sound of full triads (three note chords) became common, and towards the end of the 16th century the system of church modes began to break down entirely, giving way to the functional tonality (the system in which songs and pieces are based on musical "keys"), which would dominate Western art music for the next three centuries.

From the Renaissance era, notated secular and sacred music survives in quantity, including vocal and instrumental works and mixed vocal/instrumental works. An enormous diversity of musical styles and genres flourished during the Renaissance. These can be heard on recordings made in the 20th and 21st century, including masses, motets, madrigals, chansons, accompanied songs, instrumental dances, and many others. Beginning in the late 20th century, numerous early music ensembles were formed. Early music ensembles specializing in music of the Renaissance era give concert tours and make recordings, using modern reproductions of historical instruments and using singing and performing styles which musicologists believe were used during the era.

School of Fontainebleau

The Ecole de Fontainebleau (c.1530–c.1610) refers to two periods of artistic production in France during the late Renaissance centered on the royal Palace of Fontainebleau that were crucial in forming the French version of Northern Mannerism.

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