What Are The Characteristics Of Mannerism Art?

Mannerism is an art movement that started in Italy right after the Renaissance. It was an art movement that was filled with unique characteristics.

Mannerism was an art movement filled with elongated bodies, tiny heads, and human figures in twisted forms. Perspective and proportion were unnecessary, but colors, contrasts, virtuosity, and agitated composition were an essential part of Mannerism art.

All About Mannerism Art

Mannerism is an art movement and style that developed in Europe around the 1520s or at the end of the High Renaissance era. Baroque art replaced Mannerism art in the 16th Century.

Mannerism art is a relatively short art movement, and many times it can get forgotten as it was between the Renaissance and the Baroque art movements.

Mannerism came from the Italian word “maniera,” which means style or manner. Mannerism is a new or peculiar style that was emerging.

The Mannerist style originated in Florence and Rome and then spread to northern Italy and Europe.

The Transfiguration By Raphael

The mannerism style is present in some of Raphael’s later paintings done in Rome, most notably The Transfiguration (1517 -20).

From 1515 to 1524, the Florentine painters Rosso Florentino and Jacopo da Pontormo broke away from Renaissance classicism. They evolved an expressive yet emotionally agitated style in their religious compositions and style and their unique artistic style.

Here are some of the most notable early Mannerism works of art that helped start and influence the Mannerisms movement, along with other noted Mannerism works.

Visdomini Altarpiece (1518) By Jacopo da Pontormo
  • Jacopo da Pontormo, Visdomini Altarpiece (1518) at the Church of San Michele Visdomini, Florence, Italy.
Volterra Deposition (1521) By Rosso Florentino
  • Rosso Florentino, Volterra Deposition (1521)
Madonna With the Long Neck (1524-49) By Parmigianino
  • Parmigianino, Madonna With the Long Neck (1524-49)
 Dead Christ With Angels, (1526) By Rosso Fiorentino
  • Rosso Fiorentino, Dead Christ With Angels, (1526)
The Disposition (1521) By Jacopo da Pontormo
  • Jacopo da Pontormo, The Deposition (1521)

Michelangelo’s Sistine painting, The Last Judgement (1536 – 41), also shows some Mannerism tendencies; the shows show that even the great Renaissance artist was looking toward Mannerism.

Characteristics of Mannerisms

When we look at Mannerism, there are two eras or types of Mannerism referred to as Early Mannerism (1520 to 35) and High Mannerism (1535 to 1580). For both of these eras, there are some unique characteristics of Mannerisms.

Here are some of the unique characteristics of the Mannerism art movement:

Mannerism Was Anti-classical Or Anti-Renaissance Style

Mannerism marked a time when the mannerism artists rejected the classical style that was so important during the Renaissance painting era. During the Renaissance, the human form and trying to have the perfect human condition were essential.

The artist painted compositions used no perspective or was not concerned with perfect proportions during the Mannerism movement. They did not see the need to have the proportions or views as the Renaissance painters.

The Renaissance painter reacted to the harmonious classicism and idealized the human form. Mannerism art featured human figures in a new way. The human figures were in many twisted shapes, not seen in the Renaissance style.

Mannerism Art Had A Lack of Perspective and Proportions

Mannerism painting compositions did not care about perspective or proportions like the Renaissance artists did. For example, the human limbs would be elongated; heads were smaller than the bodies—different perspectives on how the bodies were composed and posed on the canvas.

Mannerism Paintings Were More Artificial In Style

As the Mannerism painters rejected the classical and Renaissance era, their paintings also tended to be more artificial.

It is more artificial because of how the human bodies in Mannerism would be twisted and in different forms. The bodies and the poses in Mannerism art seem to be artificial or unnatural.

Compared to Renaissance art, the Mannerism style was a lot more artificial. The way that the Mannerism artists would have twisted forms and did not care about the precision of the human forms as the Renassiacen artist can remind us a bit of some of the tendencies of Modern Expressionism in art.

Mannerism Did Not Look To Nature For Guidance

The Renaissance artists looked to nature as their inspiration for their art. The Mannerism artist did not look to nature at all for their art.

The Mannerism artist did not care about nature or look to nature for inspiration as the Renaissance artist did. This was because their art was not concerned with the proportion or perspective of the art.

Mannerism Believed In Virtuosity

The Mannerism artists were consumed with virtuosity. The Oxford dictionary defines virtuosity as:

“great skill in music or another artistic pursuit.”

Oxford Dictionary

The Mannerism artists wanted to show and express their skill in their art. It was not about producing art that was realistic or even in proportions, but it was about showing their skill in doing their art.

The Mannerism artists were obsessed with style and technique in their figural compositions. Many times their techniques even outweighed the subject matter they were painting. The most important thing was the artists’ technique and how they implemented their artistic style.

Mannerism Had Contrasting And Enriched Colors

Mannerism paintings had contrasting and enriching colors. The colors and the contrasts were an essential part of their artwork.

With Mannerism art, you find a lot of rich and deep colors such as yellows, oranges, and blues against some deep dark and lighter colors.

Historical Influences Of The Mannerism Movement

When looking at an art movement, it is good to understand a bit of the history of why the movement became important. The political and social events during the time affect art movements.

During the time of the Mannerism art movement was a time in history when there were significant changes not only politically but also religiously and economically for the people in Europe. Religion and the Church had a lot of influence on the masses and the artists.

During this time, there was also a rise of Protestantism taking hold in many parts of Europe. People began to see religion a bit differently than before. The Catholic Church was once the most important religious and political influence in Europe, but a Protestant reformation was now changing religion in Europe, including Italy.

Also, during this time in Europe, all the wars had to do with religion; all of these things influenced Mannerism artists.

Whenever massive changes occur in the world, it can also affect the artwork, and Mannerism art is an example of how art changed due to what was happening in religion and wars around Europe.

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How Did Mannerism Become An Offshoot Of The Works Of The Renaissance?

Mannerism is the art movement that emerged after the High Renaissance era. Mannerism art is an offshoot of the Renaissance; Renaissance artist as Michelangelo and Raphael adopted mannerism techniques in their art. Mannerism art exaggerated and distorted elements of Renaissance art while creating a sense of imbalance in their art.

By clicking here, you can learn more by reading How Did Mannerism Become An Offshoot Of The Works Of The Renaissance?

What Was The Focus Of Renaissance Art?

The focus of Renaissance art was on the classics of Greek and Rome, humanist philosophy, and the study of the human figure. Realism was also an essential part of renaissance art. The great artists of the Renaissance also became great anatomists and studied human beings.

By clicking here, you can learn more by reading What Was The Focus Of Renaissance Art?.

What Are The Major Periods In Western Art History?

The major Western art history periods are defined as Prehistoric Art, Ancient Art, Medieval Art, the Renaissance, Mannerism, Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassicism, Romanticism, Realism, Art Nouveau, Impressionism, Post – Impressionism, Fauvism, Expressionism, Cubism, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Op Art, Pop Art, Arte Povera, Minimalism, Conceptual Art and Contemporary Art.

By clicking here, you can learn more by reading What Are The Major Periods In Western Art History?.

Anita Louise Hummel

Hi, I am Anita Louise Hummel. I am an artist and a blogger. I paint mainly oil paints. I love to paint women, animals (mainly dogs and cats), and abstracts. I use a lot of gold and silver leaf in my paintings. I also love to blog about anything to do with art, business, Procreate, and all the wonderful artists that inspire me.

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What Are The Characteristics Of Mannerism Art?