Mannerism Art Movement

Italy 1515 - 1618

Mannerism Art Movement, History, Mannerist Paintings & Artists.

Faced with a changing world, artists of the time felt a pressing need to re-examine the forms and accepted rules of their art. In this climate, Mannerism art movement emerged, becoming the predominate trend over the course of the century. The link between the styles of the great masters of the first decade of the sixteenth century such as Michelangelo, Da Vinci, and Raphael and the emergence of the 'modern manner” is the Mannerist painter Andrea del Sarto, whose school produced the most daring innovators. He is the intermediary between humanism's vanished certainties and the tensions of the Mannerism. His figures assume eloquent poses, while group compositions interpret the traditional triangular scheme of fifteenth-century art. Jacopo Carucci, known as Pontormo, was one of Sarto's students, he soon distinguished himself as a painter. Indeed, even in his earliest works, his figures own a particular expressive power. Mannerism does not derive from the English word “manner”, but rather from the Italian maniera, which does mean manner yet additionally implies style.

Italian Mannerism in Florence and Rome.

Stimulated by the Protestant Reformation, he proposed daring innovations in religious painting, adding greater tension, drama, and restlessness than ever before. This phase was brought to a sudden stop in 1529 when the attack of Florence by Imperial troops cast Pontormo into a profound melancholy. Sarto's other great pupil was Rosso Fiorentino, whose impact had extended internationally by the end of his career. This painting style evolved to the Roman influence of Michelangelo, and to that of Parmigianino. After the sack of Rome in 1527, Rosso plummeted into hopelessness. In 1530 he moved to Paris, where he worked on Francis I Château at Fontainebleau, which assumed an essential part in the spread of Mannerism in Europe.

French Mannerism at the Fontainebleau School.

After the sack of Rome in 1527, King Francis I managed to persuade the most celebrated painters and artisans to move to France. Rosso Fiorentino and others Italian artists founded the Fontainebleau School, an international workshop in the “modern manner” that, by 1540, was to become the “art of the regime” a kind of formal code shared by all the rulers of Europe that boosted the fixed, unassailable image of absolute power. The aristocratic ideal, court etiquette, and the self-assurance of power are conveyed through still, almost crystallized forms. This allusion to classical models, could only be recognized by the cultured few, thus becoming a kind of code, accessible only to those who belong to an elite, able to appreciate the cold charm of “timeless” images, in which the production of a true likeness is less important than the need to present an idealized courtly model.

Mannerism in Central Europe.

In 1583 Emperor Rudolf II of Hapsburg decided to move the capital of the empire from Vienna to Prague. Thus, towards the end of the century, the city became the most brilliant cultural center of northern and central Europe. A large school of painters formed around Rudolf's court, which developed its own style despite diverse cultural backgrounds. Famous artists included Joseph Heintz, Hans van Aachen and Giuseppe Arcimboldo and Bartholomeus Spranger. These artists had all spent time in Italy and all had a penchant for erotic subjects depicted in a fascinating sensual manner. The school history ended with the outbreak of the 30 years war in 1618 and the sack of the city by the Swedes and the dispersion of its collections.

On a separate note.

Flemish painters during the period merged erotic French oil paintings with Vanitas (symbolic Flemish still lifes) in such a way that laid a foundation for Flemish painting in the next century. Some artists, like El Greco, experimented with distortion of the human figure and purposeful manipulation of the background for emotional effects. El Greco experimented so much that he is considered un-categorizable into any one school.

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