MANNERISM. The definition of the style of mannerism was the subject of scholarly debate in the mid-twentieth century, but no consensus was reached. The term is most helpful when used to identify one style of art in central Italy between the High Renaissance and the baroque, c. 1520–1600. It has been used more loosely, and less effectively, both in art history and other disciplines, such as cultural history, music, and literature.
SIXTEENTH- AND SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY USAGE
The word maniera was used in the sixteenth century by the historian Giorgio Vasari and others to mean simply "style." Although it usually has positive connotations, it can be used negatively to mean routine, as in Vasari's reference to the late works of Perugino (born Pietro di Cristoforo), where monotony resulted from his excessive reliance on maniera. Giovanni Pietro Bellori associated maniera with a lack of proper invention and dependence upon habit or convention. For him, the interval between the High Renaissance and the renewal of art brought about by Annibale Carracci was a deviation in which artists departed from the model of nature and followed their imaginations instead, straying into fantasy. When Bellori says that artists vitiated art with la maniera, depending on pratica, 'routine', it calls to mind Vasari's condemnation of Perugino.
In its departure from the norm, maniera acquired a positive value in the climate of the early twentieth century, when the dismantling of the academy and of the authority of classicism was being celebrated. Walter Friedländer undertook a reexamination of mannerism in his influential essay on the anticlassical style (1925), interpreting the paintings of Jacopo da Pontormo, Rosso Fiorentino, Parmigianino (born Girolano Mazzola), and (selectively) Michelangelo Buonarroti as expressing a rejection of classicism and a rebellion against it. In its conscious rejection of the norm and search for a new ideal of beauty, the mannerist painters stretched the proportions of limbs, elongated the body, narrowed the depth of space, and pressed figures against the picture plane. Together with his contemporary Max Dvorak, Friedländer found in mannerism relationships to the spiritual expressionism of their own time, especially German expressionism. Dvorak defined mannerism as an artistic means to express spirituality. He identified the deformations of Jacopo Tintoretto and El Greco with mannerism; their styles are better explained, however, as Counter-Reformation responses to the call of the post-Tridentine church for affective sacred images.
Friedländer's essay was not translated until 1957, but well before then the "anticlassical style" had established a firm foothold in Anglo-Saxon scholarship. He had focused on the Florentines of the 1520s, but Frederick Hartt applied his analysis to Giulio Romano (born Giulio Pippi de'Gianuzzi) and the other artists of Rome, and extended Heinrich Wölfflin's exclusion of the last half-decade of Raphael's career from the canon of classicism (see Wölfflin's Classic Art ). Hartt found evidence of anticlassicism in Raphael's late workshop projects, where the overextended master had to rely heavily on his assistants, led by Romano, beginning in the Stanza dell'Incendio. Some scholars were skeptical of Hartt's conclusions, and S. J. Freedberg, in particular, restored to Raphael and classicism much of what Hartt and Wölfflin had taken away.
By the 1950s scholars had recognized that anticlassicism could not explain the works of the second generation of artists, like Francesco Salviati, Il Bronzino, and Vasari. As a result of a proposal by Luisa Beccherucci calling for refinement of the definition of the style, a distinction was made between mannerism, which was applied to the first generation, and maniera, the second generation. A session of the International Congress of the History of Art in 1961 produced two seminal papers by Craig Hugh Smyth and John Shearman. Smyth deduced from a study of the period's works "conventions of the figure" that were frequently repeated and constituted a set of rules for the maniera method of constructing images. Marcia Hall further developed Smyth's brilliant insight that these conventions were derived from late antique relief sculpture, and she found the precedent and model for this "relieflike style" in the late work of Raphael (particularly, the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, 1520–1524, Stanza di Constantino, Vatican).
John Shearman's paper was later developed into a book (1967). He undertook to redefine the style by uncovering the sixteenth-century meaning of maniera and restricting its definition. His examination of texts from that time determined that maniera could always be translated as 'style', so his definition excluded the expressive and the anticlassical, in fact the whole first generation of mannerism. It focused on style itself as an end, and maniera became "the stylish style" characterized by refinement, grace, sophistication, elegance, and artificiality. This has proved the most durable of the definitions offered in the twentieth century, although objections have been raised by Henri Zerner and Jeroen Stumpel. Zerner found fault with Shearman's exclusion of all meaning. He credited Freedberg's analysis of maniera (1965), which pointed to an "underlying anxiety" apparent, although masked, also in Vasari. Freedberg saw the stylization of maniera as a mask for a generation that recognized that "there was no longer any virtue in a simple statement." Layered complexity of meaning was suggested by layered artistic reference, and quotations from earlier art were intended to be recognized and appreciated by a cultured audience. Stumpel (1988), insisting that mannerism is an invention of the twentieth century, held that no definition can be reconstructed from sixteenth-century usage.
Recently, Philip Sohm has successfully argued that conceiving and naming mannerism as a period style was a seicento invention. Vasari's definition of maniera includes five terms indicating three kinds of qualities: technique or procedural routine (modi, 'methods', and tratti, 'brushstrokes'); the intellective, imaginative, or psychological generation of style (arie 'expressions' and fantasie 'imaginations'); and maniera that refers to transcendent, aestheticizing beauty.
The mannerist style has had the greatest appeal during periods of social unrest because of its association with anticlassicism and, therefore, rebellion against the establishment. Today, the "anti" character of mannerism is largely discredited; efforts to interpret it as continuous with High Renaissance classicism receive more attention. In sum, there is little agreement in basic texts on the definition of mannerism.
Beccherucci, Luisa. "Momenti dell'arte fiorentina nel Cinquecento." In Il Cinquecento. Florence, 1955.
Bellori, Giovanni Pietro. "The Idea of the Painter, Sculptor, and Architect, Superior to Nature by Selection from Natural Beauties." In Erwin Panofsky, Idea: A Concept in Art Theory. Translated by Joseph J. S. Peake. Columbia, S.C., 1968. Appendix II. Translation of original essay (1672).
Dvorak, Max. "Ü ber Greco und den Manierismus." In Kunstgechichte als Geistesgeschichte, Munich, 1928. For an abbreviated translation, see John Coolidge, Magazine of Art XLVI, no. 1 (1953).
Freedberg, S. J. "Observations on the Painting of the Maniera." Art Bulletin 47 (1965): 187–197.
——. Painting of the High Renaissance in Rome and Florence. 2 vols. Cambridge, Mass., 1961.
Friedlaender, Walter. "The Anticlassical Style." In Mannerism and Anti-Mannerism in Italian Painting, Two Essays, pp. 3–43. New York, 1957. Translation of Die Entstehung des antiklassischen Stiles in der italienischen Malerei um 1520 (1925).
Hall, Marcia B. After Raphael: Painting in Central Italy in the Sixteenth Century. Cambridge, U.K., and New York, 1999.
——. "Raphael and Giulio Romano." Art Bulletin 26 (1944): 67–94.
Shearman, John. Mannerism. Harmondsworth, U.K., 1967. Expansion of "Maniera as an Aesthetic Ideal," in The Renaissance and Mannerism (Studies in Western Art: Acts of the 20th International Congress of the History of Art, Vol. 2). Princeton, 1963.
Smyth, Craig Hugh. Mannerism and Maniera. With introduction by Elizabeth Cropper. Vienna, 1992. Originally published in The Renaissance and Mannerism (Studies in Western Art: Acts of the 20th International Congress of the History of Art, Vol. 2). Princeton, 1963.
Sohm, Philip L. Style in the Art Theory of Early Modern Italy. Cambridge, U.K., and New York, 2001.
Stumpel, Jeroen. "Speaking of Manner." Word and Image 4 (1988): 246–264.
Wölfflin, Heinrich. Classic Art: An Introduction to the Italian Renaissance. Translated by Linda and Peter Murray. London, 1952. Translation of the Die klassische Kunst (1899).
Zerner, Henri. "Observations on the Use of the Concept of Mannerism." In The Meaning of Mannerism, edited by Franklin W. Robinson and Stephen G. Nichols, Jr., pp. 105–121. Hanover, N.H., 1972.
Marcia B. Hall
man·ner / ˈmanər/ • n. 1. a way in which a thing is done or happens: taking notes in an unobtrusive manner. ∎ a style in literature or art: a dramatic poem in the manner of Goethe. ∎ Gram. a semantic category of adverbs and adverbials that answer the question “how?”: an adverb of manner. ∎ (manner of) chiefly poetic/lit. a kind or sort of: what manner of man is he?2. a person's outward bearing or way of behaving toward others: his arrogance and pompous manner a shy and diffident manner.3. (manners) polite or well-bred social behavior: didn't your mother teach you any manners? ∎ social behavior or habits: Tim apologized for his son's bad manners. ∎ the way a motor vehicle handles or performs: it impressed us with its distinctly unvanlike road manners.PHRASES: all manner of many different kinds of: they accuse me of all manner of evil things.by no (or any) manner of meanssee means.in a manner of speaking in some sense; so to speak.to the manner born naturally at ease in a specified job or situation: she slipped into a more courtly role as if to the manner born. ∎ destined by birth to follow a custom or way of life.DERIVATIVES: man·ner·less adj.ORIGIN: Middle English: from Old French maniere, based on Latin manuarius ‘of the hand,’ from manus ‘hand.’
Lewis & and Darley (1986);
Mowl & and Earnshaw (1995);
Jane Turner (1996);
man·ner·ism / ˈmanəˌrizəm/ • n. 1. a habitual gesture or way of speaking or behaving; an idiosyncrasy: learning the great man's speeches and studying his mannerisms. ∎ Psychiatry an ordinary gesture or expression that becomes abnormal through exaggeration or repetition.2. excessive or self-conscious use of a distinctive style in art, literature, or music: he seemed deliberately to be stripping his art of mannerism.3. (Mannerism) a style of 16th-century Italian art preceding the Baroque, characterized by unusual effects of scale, lighting, and perspective, and the use of bright, often lurid colors. It is particularly associated with the work of Pontormo, Vasari,and the later Michelangelo.DERIVATIVES: man·ner·ist n. & adj.man·ner·is·tic / ˌmanəˈristik/ adj.
Hence mannered, mannerism XIX, mannerist XVII. mannerly (see -LY1, -LY2) XIV.
to the manner born naturally fitted for some position or employment; originally, as a quotation from Shakespeare's Hamlet.
See also evil communications corrupt good manners, other times, other manners.