Renaissance and Mannerist Art

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By this Venetian city had become the most advanced northern center of new creative ideas, although this advance depended on visiting Tuscan masters as much as the young, talented northern painters working in Padua. This led to an explosion in differing local styles. An example of this is the odd and highly original painting turned out in Ferrara by Cosme Tura and Francesco del Cossa whose frescos in Palazzo Schifanoia provide a fascinating testimony of their work. Another is the highly decorative refinement of Carlo Crivelli's work in the Marches. Above all, this was the period that gave us the archeologically accurate but highly dramatic genius of Andrea Mantegna.

The Bridal Chamber in Mantua marks a new era in the style of ltalian courts. Gone is all gorgeous late-Gothic love of ornament. Instead we have solemn and highly intellectual Renaissance images. The most complete example of a Renaissance court, however, was the Ducal Palace built by Federico da Montefeltro in the small city of Urbino.

With visionary patronage, the Duke brought men of letters, Renaissances, architects, and painters from all parts of Italy to Urbino. Each made his contribution to an international dialogue on art on the highest level, but the outstanding figure in Urbino was surely Piero della Francesca. He produced works, such as the Montefeltro Altarpiece now in the Brera Gallery in Milan, that are unsurpassable models of how form and color can be blended into mathematical perspective.

But, perhaps unsurprisingly, his austere geometrical art was not widely popular. By the s knowledge of perspective and how to paint a three-dimensional image had almost certainly penetrated every corner of Italy. Although the manner differed from place to place, by this date a revolution in painting had already taken place. In Florence, this was the age of Botticelli. These masterpieces epitomize the Golden Age of Lorenzo the Magnificent. In S, Antonello da Messina arrived in Venice, fresh from contacts both with Flemish painting, which had pioneered the use of oil paints, and the work of Piero della Francesca.

Thanks to Antonello's time in the city of the lagoons, the Venetian school abandoned the last vestiges of Byzantine art and Gothic tradition and began their own new, long-lasting and distinctive Renaissance.

A new style of Italian art emerged after the High Renaissance

The main artist in this phase was Giovanni Bellini, who laid the foundations of Venetian painting and shaped its essence. Giovanni Bellini can, in fact, be credited with being the first artist to depict fully all the subtleties of atmospheric light and shadow. At first his example was only taken up partially by Vivarini and Carpaccio, not being developed in full until the start of the following century through Giorgione and Titian's early work. A true Renaissance school of art also grew up in Milan under the Sforza dukes, thanks initially to the work of Vincenzo Foppa and Bramante, but they were soon eclipsed by Leonardo da Vinci who, arriving in , effectively created the Milanese School.

After a long period of crisis, when the Popes were either absent or far too busy with political problems to act as art patrons, Rome also began to reclaim its role as a great cultural center. This represented one of the triumphs of sophisticated but elegant Quattrocento painting, devoid of all harshness. Perugino's sweet and very urbane style was extremely popular throughout Italy.

It was from this high plateau of artistic excellence that Raphael would soon soar. There arc two other important factors to bear in mind. The first concerns the technical developments that took place in painting and in the equipment artists used. At the start of the fifteenth century, monumental painting fell exclusively into one of two categories: frescos or wood panels. There was a marked preference for polyptychs on a gold background, framed in richly carved surrounds. These were the most widespread tvpe of late-Gothic painting.

The progressive growth in the acceptance of the view that art should imitate reality led to gold backgrounds being replaced by landscapes and to the fragmented device of the polyptych being abandoned in favor of large single pictures. An evergrowing number of patrons, many of whom commissioned work that was no longer exclusively religious in nature, welcomed even further developments.

Equally important after the middle of the centurv, and thanks mainly to Antonello da Messina, the use of oil as the preferred medium began to gain favor throughout Italy. Within two generations it had replaced traditional color techniques using tempera made of egg yolk, quick drving and so ideal for fresco work but less capable of expressing atmosphere. Oil initially was used for small-scale works such as portraits, but was later used for altarpieces too.

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Some artists like Botticelli at times worked in a mixture of the two mediums. The second factor concerns the role of the artist in societv. In the previous centurv, some masters such as Giotto had already begun to raise the status of artists, but in the early fifteenth century the social rank of painters remained fairly low, on a par with specialized craftsmen. Painting was considered one of the "mechanical arts" in which manual dexterity was the most important consideration. The mechanical arts were contrasted unfavorably with the liberal arts which were based on writing and the intellect.

Artists' studios across Europe in the fifteenth century-were more like workshops or factories than libraries. Thev turned out not only paintings, but many other products: decorated furniture, costumes, heraldic shields, the trappings for public holidays, flags and so on. But in Italy the way that artists increasinglv took part in the cultural and philosophical debate Leon Battista Alberti and Piero della Francesca being two typical examples led to major social developments which had almost no parallel in other countries.

During the Renaissance, Italian painters became intellectuals, taking part in dialogues with their patrons and with men of letters. They did not merely carry out a work but also claimed the right to discuss its underlying ideas. This should be borne in mind when we consider the perennial greatness and importance of a century in which art above all else contributed to giving humanity a new horizon, and perspectives hitherto undreamed of. The ideals of fifteenth-century humanism, seen from a distance of five hundred years, may appear Utopian.

Its premises of universal harmony and the restoration of a civilization governed by serene, rational thought were only partially achieved even at the zenith of the Renaissance. Nevertheless, through its marvelous accomplishments, it left to humanity one of the few periods in art that has lastingly exalted the human spirit.

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II Fifteenth-century Renaissance art can be seen as a reflection of a calm and stable epoch in search of harmony. The often grandiose and dramatic art of the Cinquecento sixteenth century symbolizes a different century, one torn by wars, troubled by profound doubts and shaken by new religious movements. While some nation states Spain, France, England consolidated themselves, new routes were opened up by overseas discoveries and whole new worlds were discovered. Meanwhile Martin Luther's Reformation tore central Europe apart, the Ottoman Empire of Turkey continued its advance up to the gates of Vienna and the plague recurred again and again.

These were events that shook the Continent politically, economically, and culturally, and changed Europe for ever. It is no coincidence that historians often classify the fifteenth century as part of the Middle Ages, whereas the sixteenth century is considered the beginning of the Modern Age. In Italy there could no longer be anv doubt that foreign powers were there to stay the whole of the South as well as the former Duchy of Milan fell under Spanish rule and only Venice retained a real independence.

At the same time, the old-established patterns of trade across the Mediterranean seemed threatened by new ocean routes to the East, although this threat was slow to materialize. But the century opened splendidly. Its first twenty years are known as the High Renaissance, when Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Titian - bitter rivals but ones who constantly exchanged ideas — produced unprecedented masterpieces, fulfilling the ideals pursued by artists since Giotto two centuries earlier.

Italian art as a whole reached heights that have never been surpassed, and was confirmed as by far the richest, most varied, and influential school in Europe. However, Italy's increasingly troubled political situation it was the chief battle ground for the constantly clashing armies of France, Spain, and Germany up to meant that both artists and their works sometimes went abroad, lured by rich monarchs. They took with them the latest in Italian Renaissance art which spread throughout Europe.

Leonardo moved to France where he died, so bringing the High Renaissance to a still medieval country. Other, lesser painters such as Rosso Fiorentino and Primaticcio followed, founding the Fontainebleau school of painting. Great rulers such as the Emperor Charles V and his son Philip II became Titian's main patrons, partlv supplanting the old-established families of small Italian courts.

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At the same time there were already the first signs of the economic and historical decline that would undermine Italian art in the very long run, although the Seicento seventeenth century saw another golden age in the arts. The Cinquecento was also a century of self-portraits. The great Italian masters had already acquired the same high cultural status enjoyed by Renaissance scholars, and were no longer regarded as menial craftsmen.

Their interest in self-portraiture the cheapest type of portraiture, after all partlv reflects their new-found status. Leonardo drew his own aging self in the wrinkled and meditative psychological self-portrait in his Merlin-like drawing done in extreme old age. At the apex of the High Renaissance, Raphael's self-portrait depicts him at case among scholars and philosophers in "The School of Athens.

Da Vinci's Code: High Renaissance and Mannerist Art

Bartholomew, a ragged old beggar with flayed skin in his Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel. The Mannerist painter Parmigianino turned his Self-portrait in a Convex Mirror into a prodigious virtuoso exercise. Titian's great series of self-portraits show a painter physically growing older but whose understanding grew ever more vigorous — an artist ready to meet eternitv with paintbrush in hand. Without simplifying art history too much, we can say that in the sixteenth century major changes occurred about every two decades.

In Prague, the court painter Bartholomeus Spranger led Mannerism. His training reflected the truly international flavor of court Mannerism, as he was born and first trained in Antwerp, but subsequently widely influenced by both the Northern European and the Italian Renaissance, and particularly by the Roman Mannerists. His large paintings were often mythological scenes, combining a bawdy treatment of the nude with an artistic facility that emphasized lavish decorative effects. Prints of his work were disseminated throughout Europe and had a noted impact on the development of Mannerism in the Netherlands.

Mannerism in the Netherlands was informed by the Northern European tradition of print making, of which Hendrick Goltz became a leading force. He innovated new etching techniques including the "dot and lozenge" method. The method was innovative for its process in which an artist would place dots within a grid of spaces in a lozenge or container meant to hold a familiar shape like a body muscle or being in the midst of animation , meant to contain an image, and purposely leave dots out of other areas within the grid making finer tonal gradations visibly possible.

Another technique of Goltz was the "swelling line" where the artist would create lines of varying width with his burin , an engraving tool, to manipulate the viewer's final perception of depth. He created hundreds of prints, some of the most notable illustrating mythological and allegorical subjects, like his Icarus , and also a number of prints after the drawings or paintings of Bartholomeus Spranger.

Spranger also influenced Goltzius van Mander, Cornelis van Haarlem, and the group of artists known as the Haarlem Mannerists. Other artists in the Netherlands were primarily influenced by the Italian Mannerists, as seen in the works of Joachim Wtewael, after his sojourn in Italy in the s. He combined mythological subjects with a traditional Northern European emphasis on landscape and symbolic detail.

His approach became the leading trend among the artists centered in Utrecht, particularly as seen in the works of Abraham Bloemaert. In addition, artists of the Netherlands also adapted the Mannerist style to traditional Northern European subjects when Mattijs, Paul Bril, Hans Rottenhammer, and Adam Elsheimer became noted for their landscape panoramas.

Other artists like Albrecht Altdorfer, and Gillis van Coninxloo painted what they called "pure landscapes," usually depicting a dense forest in close-up fashion. This approach influenced subsequent artists like Altdorfer's student Roelandt Savery, whose Forest with deer is almost modern in its expressionistic effect. The two most famous Mannerist architects were Michelangelo and Giulio Romano. Michelangelo's most noted design was the Laurentian Library , which he began in after receiving a commission from Pope Clement VII, a member of the Medici family.

The library's vestibule centered upon the staircase that radically combined elliptical shapes for the three bottom steps, quadrangular shapes for the outer step, and convex shapes for the central steps to create a dynamic vertical movement into the upper reading room. The Mannerist effect was further emphasized by wave-like decorative motifs below pairs of ascending columns. Additionally Michelangelo's development of "the colossal order," or "giant order," using pilasters that extended for two or more stories was also influential, as seen in his design for the Palazzo dei Conservatori mid th century.

Giulio Romano's Palazzo del Te was a tour de force of Mannerist architecture and made him famous. Envisioning a kind of pleasure palace, Federico Gonzaga commissioned the design for his familial estate where he raised horses. A square block with a central court, the Palazzo del Te employed false doors and windows, dramatic juxtapositions, as seen in the four different facades in the interior courtyard, and the artist's frescoes. One room was devoted to erotic mythological scenes, another to life-sized depictions of Gonzaga's horses, and the third, the famous Sala dei Giganti, showed giants trying to conquer Mount Olympus in a scene painted from floor to ceiling with a trompe l'oeil effect.

As art historians Marvin Trachtenberg and Isabelle Hyman wrote Giulio's "strange, chimerical imagination was most dramatically unleashed in his illusionistic fresco paintings Mannerism began to decline around as the noted artist Caravaggio, dubbed "the father of the Baroque," pioneered a revolutionary approach that combined chiaroscuro and tenebrism , both techniques emphasizing the play of dark and light, with a new realism in dramatic scenes.

By , the Baroque period dominated, though the movement's emphasis on dramatic action and intensely emotional scenes can be seen as evolving from Mannerist treatments. In the decorative arts, the Mannerist influence was to continue into the mids, particularly in the courts of Europe. The Mannerists influenced the subsequent generation of artists, as Giambologna's students Adriaen de Vries, Pietro Puget, and Pietro Francavilla continued to promote his style in Northern Europe.

More importantly, Giambologna's works had a noted influence on Bernini and Alessandro Algari, the leading sculptors of the Baroque era. But, in general, Mannerism fell out of favor, as did many of its leading artists, in the following centuries and was generally seen as a period of decline and decadence following the High Renaissance. His work later became a primary influence upon Pablo Picasso and the development of Cubism , as well as influencing the development of Expressionism in the works of Beckmann , Macke , Kokoschka , Hofer, Steinhardt, and Korteweg.

Bronzino's work was 'rediscovered' as well, by the Neoclassical Jacques-Louis David , and then by the 20 th century artists such as Picasso , Matisse , de Chirico , and Frida Kahlo. Mannerist architecture influenced Baroque architecture and, subsequently, the Neo-Palladian movement and Beaux-Arts architecture.

The style also influenced the noted 20 th century architect Robert Venturi who revived the term, writing, "Mannerism for architecture of our time that Content compiled and written by Rebecca Seiferle. Updated and modified regularly.

Late Renaissance and Mannerist Painting in Italy

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Renaissance & Mannerist Works of Art Assembled by Fabrizio Moretti

Francis I of France. The Libyan Sibyl in the Sistine Chapel ceiling shows an early example of the extended limbs and serpentine figure that also influenced the development of Mannerism. Michelangelo's The Libyan Sibyl in the Sistine Chapel ceiling shows an early example of the extended limbs and serpentine figure that also influenced the development of Mannerism. The Holy Family with the Young Saint John the Baptist shows the variety of poses and figurative juxtapositions that influenced the development of Mannerism.

Andrea del Sarto's The Holy Family with the Young Saint John the Baptist shows the variety of poses and figurative juxtapositions that influenced the development of Mannerism. Joseph in Egypt shows the artist developing his Mannerist idiom, as he juxtaposes several narratives in an unrealistic setting, as seen particularly in the curving staircase that seems to ascend into the air. Pontormo's Joseph in Egypt shows the artist developing his Mannerist idiom, as he juxtaposes several narratives in an unrealistic setting, as seen particularly in the curving staircase that seems to ascend into the air.

Deposition emphasized the frenetic movement and intense feeling as Christ was taken down from the cross. Rosso Fiorentino's Deposition emphasized the frenetic movement and intense feeling as Christ was taken down from the cross. Portrait of a Young Man c. Bronzino's Portrait of a Young Man c.

Mercury became the artist's most popular and reproduced work. Giambologna's Mercury became the artist's most popular and reproduced work. Elephant c. Rosso Fiorentino's Elephant c. Diana the Huntress by the School of Fontainebleau exemplified the French Mannerist erotic ideal. This painting of Diana the Huntress by the School of Fontainebleau exemplified the French Mannerist erotic ideal.

Hercules, Deianira and Nessus depicts Hercules holding his wife Deinaira after fighting and killing Nessus, the centaur who had tried to rape her. The highest value was instead placed upon the apparently effortless solution of intricate artistic problems, such as the portrayal of the nude in complex and artificial poses. Mannerist artists evolved a style that is characterized by artificiality and artiness, by a thoroughly self-conscious cultivation of elegance and technical facility, and by a sophisticated indulgence in the bizarre.

The figures in Mannerist works frequently have graceful but queerly elongated limbs, small heads, and stylized facial features, while their poses seem difficult or contrived. The deep, linear perspectival space of High Renaissance painting is flattened and obscured so that the figures appear as a decorative arrangement of forms in front of a flat background of indeterminate dimensions.

Mannerists sought a continuous refinement of form and concept, pushing exaggeration and contrast to great limits. The results included strange and constricting spatial relationships, jarring juxtapositions of intense and unnatural colours, an emphasis on abnormalities of scale, a sometimes totally irrational mix of classical motifs and other visual references to the antique, and inventive and grotesque pictorial fantasies. In the period from to the Florentine painters Rosso Fiorentino and Jacopo da Pontormo broke away from Renaissance classicism and evolved an expressive, emotionally agitated style in their religious compositions.

In the early s Rosso journeyed to Rome, where he joined the artists Giulio Romano , Perino del Vaga, and Polidoro da Caravaggio , who had all been followers of Raphael in his work for the Vatican. The Mannerist style completely emerged in the paintings of these artists as well as in those of Parmigianino. Meanwhile, Mannerism had begun to spread outside Italy; Rosso took the style to France in and was followed there two years later by Francesco Primaticcio , who evolved an important French variant of Mannerism in his decorations done at the French royal court at Fontainebleau.

Mannerism was transplanted and disseminated throughout central and northern Europe around mid-century through large numbers of engravings of Italian paintings and through the visits of northern artists to Rome to study. Although the Dutch cities of Haarlem and Amsterdam became centres of the new style, the most ambitious patronage was practiced at Prague by the Emperor Rudolf II; Spranger and others who worked for Rudolf evolved a rather bizarre and exotic Mannerism that occasionally degenerated into the merely grotesque and inexplicable.

The sculptors Bartolommeo Ammannati , Benvenuto Cellini , and, most importantly, Giambologna became the principal practitioners of Mannerism with their graceful and complexly posed statues.