mannerism, a style in art and architecture (c.1520–1600), originating in Italy as a reaction against the equilibrium of form and proportions characteristic of the High Renaissance. In Florence, Pontormo and Bronzino, and in Rome, Il Rosso, Parmigianino, and Beccafumi created elegant figures elongated and contorted into uncomfortable postures. Mannerists devised compositions in which they deliberately confused scale and spatial relationships between figures, crowding them into the picture plane. Often strange tunnellike spaces were created, as in the works of Tintoretto and El Greco. Lighting became harsh, and coloring tended to be acrimonious. The mannerists devised sophisticated and obscure allegories. Among the prominent sculptors who created sinuous and sometimes bizarre forms were Giovanni Bologna, Ammanati, and to a certain extent Cellini. The style was carried into France by Primaticcio, Il Rosso, Niccolò dell'Abbate, and Cellini. It flourished particularly at Fontainebleau and was adapted by the sculptor Goujon and the engraver Callot. In architecture the style was manifested in the use of unbalanced proportions and arbitrary arrangements of decorative features. Elements of mannerism can be found in the elegant Laurentian Library in Florence, designed (c.1525) by Michelangelo; the Massimi Palace, Rome, planned by Peruzzi; the Palazzo del Te, Mantua, built and decorated by Giulio Romano; and the Uffizi, planned by Vasari. In Spain, Berruguette was a leading exponent of mannerism. Toward the end of the 16th cent., mannerism assumed an academic formalism in the works of the Zuccaro brothers. By the end of the century it had given way to the baroque.

See studies by S. J. Freedburg (2 vol., 1961), F. Würtenberger (1963), and M. Haraszti-Takas (1970).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Mannerism: Selected full-text books and articles

Mannerism: The European Style of the Sixteenth Century By Franzsepp Weurtenberger; Michael Heron Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1963
Readings in Italian Mannerism By Liana De Girolami Cheney Peter Lang, 1997
Mannerism: The Painting and Style of the Late Renaissance By Jacques Bousquet; Simon Watson Taylor Braziller, 1964
The Social History of Art By Arnold Hauser Vintage Books, vol.2, 1957
Continuity and Change in Art: The Development of Modes of Representation By Sidney J. Blatt; Ethel S. Blatt Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1984
Librarian's tip: Chap. 4 "The Discovery and Development of Linear Perspective: The Renaissance, Mannerism, and the Baroque"
Art and Architecture in France, 1500 to 1700 By Anthony Blunt Penguin Books, 1953
Librarian's tip: "The Second School of Fontainebleau--The Mannerists of Nancy: Bellange and Callot-Late Mannerism in Paris--Vignon" begins on p. 124
Hendrick Goltzius and Mannerism By Danto, Arthur Coleman The Nation, Vol. 254, No. 5, February 10, 1992
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