Artistic Theory in Italy, 1450-1600

By Anthony Blunt | Go to book overview
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Chapter IX THE LATER MANNERISTS

AT the end of the sixteenth century Mannerism gradually ceases to be the dominant style in Italian painting, and its place is taken by the Eclecticism of the Carracci and the Bolognese Academy. It is generally said that the Carracci mark a sharp reaction against the Mannerists with all of whose ideas and methods they disagreed. It is true that there is little in common between the Carracci and Mannerists of the Florentine tradition or those of the Beccafumi type, but there is one group of artists, always described as Mannerists, whose doctrines anticipate the methods of the Eclectics so accurately that one is tempted to regard the Bolognese Academy as the realization in practice of ideas evolved by those very Mannerists which the Academy officially condemned.

Compared with the aristocratic and emotional kinds of Mannerists so far considered the group now referred to may be described as academic and eclectic-the two adjectives usually reserved for the Carracci and their school. These Mannerists were deeply conscious of the decline which had come over Italian art since the days of Leo X, and they hoped like the Carracci to stop this decline not by new discoveries but by the intelligent imitation of the works which the masters of the Renaissance had left behind. For them, as for the Bolognese, painting was a science which could be taught according to fixed rules, and these rules could be discovered by studying the example of good masters. These academic Mannerists can be considered in two main groups. One centred round the Academy of Drawing in Rome, and the most important member of it was Federico Zuccaro, who was elected president in 1593. The other, a

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