Also, Mannerism is sometimes defined as the “stylish style”, for its emphasis on self-conscious artifice over realistic depiction. The sixteenth-century artist and critic Vasari—himself amannerist—believed that excellence in painting demanded refinement, richness of invention, and virtuous technique, opinion that emphasized the artist’s intellect. More important than his carefully recreated observation of nature was the artist’s mental conception and its elaboration. This intellectual importance was, in part, a natural consequence of the artist’s new status in society. No longerregarded as craftsmen, painters and sculptors took their place with scholars, poets, and humanists in a climate that fostered an appreciation for elegance, complexity, and even precocity.
There are two detectable strains of the Mannerist style: Early Mannerism (c.1520-35) is known for its "anti-classical", or "anti-Renaissance" style, which then developed into High Mannerism (c.1535-1580), a moreintricate, inward-looking and intellectual style, designed to appeal to more sophisticated patrons. As a consequence of the non-natural depiction, this is an art style that focused on the human form, recreated in intricate poses and in exaggerated, not always realistic, settings; and the paintings contained artificial color and unrealistic spatial proportions. These reasons explain why the worksof the movement are often unsettling and strange. As a whole, Mannerist painting tends to be more artificial and less naturalistic than Renaissance painting. This exaggerated idiom is typically associated with attributes such as emotionalism, elongated human figures, strained poses, unusual effects of scale, lighting or perspective, vivid often garish colours.
Mannerism’s artificialityfrequently creates a feeling of anxiety, given by the presence of the bizarre, the acid color, the illogical compression of space, the elongated proportions and exaggerated anatomy of figures in convoluted, serpentine poses. Then, in the rejection of the balance of the Renaissance period in favor of a more emotional and distorted point of view, this art style reflected the tension in Europe at the timeof its popularity, probably a result of the time period’s upheaval from the Reformation, the plague, and the sack of Rome.
In this point, it is necessary to ma make a stop, and focus in the contextual situation that provides the beginning of this art style, so we can understand its origins. If the harmonious and idealistic representations of the High Renaissance expressed the supremeconfidence of man, who saw himself as the measure of all things in the first few decades of the 16th century, this certainty was soon shattered. In 1517, with his Wittenberg Theses, Martin Luther declared the religious war of the Reformation against the Catholic Church. For the Protestants, the papacy had become the epitome of universal moral and religious decadence. The chief bone of contention was thesale of so-called 'indulgences', with which the faithful could buy forgiveness from the Pope. The money from this lucrative business flowed into the magnificent new building of St Peter's in Rome. The rapid growth of the Reformation movement demonstrated the need for fundamental reforms within the Church. But there was a high price to be paid for it. Bloody wars were waged throughout Europe in...