First generation Mannerist Jacopo da Pontormo (1494-1557) broke away from High Renaissance classicism, to create a more personal, expressive style that is distinctly modern—when placed in the broader context of art history. This style—Mannerism—developed between 1520 and 1600, and reflected the tension that marked Europe at this time in history. Mannerism rejected the calm balance that was a characteristic of the Renaissance ideal, in favor of emotion and distortion.
The authorship on accompanying tondos to the one featured here is not clearly known. However, this bald St John, with a long beard shares, the same uneasy and sorrowful humanity lavished on the body of Christ in the Deposition by Jacopo Pontormo in the same chapel. Thus, this tondo can certainly be attributed to Pontormo. All figures of the Evangelists located in the Cappella Capponi, Santa Felicità, Florence—with their distinctly “Michelangelesque” flavor, possess a vigor deriving from their twisted heads that push forward. The first generation of Mannerists were wholly and completely obsessed with Michelangelo.