Mannerist art in Italy (1450-1600)

The rebirth of classical ideal, its artists using naturalism and linear perspective to achieve new heights of realism

Eventually the High Renaissance began to stagnate, producing vapid works of technical perfection but little substance. Several artists sought ways out of the downward spiral.

Mannerism was the most interesting attempt, a movement that found its muse in the extreme torsion of Michelangelo’s figures—in sculpture and painting—and his unusual use of oranges, greens, and other nontraditional colors, most especially in the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

In sculpture, Mannerism produced twisting figures in exaggerated contraposto positioning.

Notable Mannserist artists

Artists who took Michelangelo's ideas and ran them to their logical limits included painters Andrea del Sarto (1486-1530) and his students Rosso Fiorentino (1494-1540) and Pontormo (1494-1556).

All three are well represented in Florence's Uffizi, Pitti Palace, SS. Annunziata, though you shouldn't miss Pontormo's 1535-27 frescoes in Florence's Santa Felice and Rosso's 1521 masterpiece Deposition in Volterra's Pinacoteca. Most of Sienese Domenico Beccafumi's (1484-1551) important works stayed in Siena.

Il Parmigianino's 1534 Madonna of the Long Neck, in the Uffizi, is exemplary of the style, starring a waifish Virgin with a grotesquely long neck and pointy head.

Sculptors fared better with the Mannerism idea, producing for the first time statues that needed to be looked at from multiple angles to be fully appreciated, like Giambologna’s (1529-1608) Rape of the Sabines (1583) under Florence’s Loggia dei Lanzi and the Fountain of the Moors (1623-26) at Livorno’s harbor by his student, Pietro Tacca (1577-1664).

Where to find Mannerism art in Italy

★★★
"The Birth of Venus" (1484–85) by Sandro Botticelli (Photo Public Domain)
Uffizi
Florence: Centro Storico

Visiting the Gallerie degli Uffizi is like taking Renaissance 101: A smorgasbord of paintings by Giotto, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Raphael, Titian, and Botticelli—including his iconic "Birth of Venus"

 
★★☆
 (Photo by Dimitris Kamaras)

"Uffizi Part II": A stellar collection of High Renaisance and baroque art in the princely Renaissance Pitti Palace

 
★★★
"The Birth of Venus" (1484–85) by Sandro Botticelli (Photo Public Domain)
Uffizi 3rd floor 1st corridor
Florence: Centro Storico

Visiting the Gallerie degli Uffizi is like taking Renaissance 101: A smorgasbord of paintings by Giotto, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Raphael, Titian, and Botticelli—including his iconic "Birth of Venus"

 
★★★
Niobids (Photo by Михаил Бернгардт)
Uffizi 3rd floor 2nd corridor
Florence: Centro Storico

Visiting the Gallerie degli Uffizi is like taking Renaissance 101: A smorgasbord of paintings by Giotto, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Raphael, Titian, and Botticelli—including his iconic "Birth of Venus"

 
★★★
"Venus of Urbino" (1538) by Titian (Photo Public Domain)
Uffizi 2nd floor
Florence: Centro Storico

Visiting the Gallerie degli Uffizi is like taking Renaissance 101: A smorgasbord of paintings by Giotto, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Raphael, Titian, and Botticelli—including his iconic "Birth of Venus"

 
★★★
 (Photo by Marc Buehler)
Free
Piazza della Signoria
Florence: Centro Storico

Florence's main square is a public living room filled with ancient and Renaissance statues and fountains

 
★★☆
Room 2 in the museum (Photo courtesy of the museum)
Museo Capodimonte
Naples: Capodimonte

The most important painting gallery in all of Southern Italy

 
★★☆

A 17C riverside fortress filled with Renaissance and baroque Old Maters—and a striking Palladian theater

 
★☆☆
The facade (Photo by Max_Ryazanov)
Free
SS. Annunziata
Florence: San Lorenzo / San Marco

A treasure trove of Renaissance architecture and Mannerist art, and final resting place of several late Renaissance masters

 
★☆☆

A baroque face hides masterworks by the two great native artists: Correggio (Renaissance) and Parmigianino (Mannerist)

 
☆☆☆
The Chapter House, with central 'Crucifixion' fresco (1387) by Niccolò di Pietro Gerini (Photo by Sailko)
Free
Santa Felícita
Florence: Oltrarno

One of the oldest churches in Florence is decorated with Mannerist masterpieces

 
☆☆☆
The interior (Photo by Johann H. Addicks)
Free
San Francesco
Pisa: Eastern Downtown Pisa

A barn of a church with Mannerist and Baroque pantings