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Entries in Mannerism (25)


Schiavone: Vigorous - Fluid - Painterly

Andrea Schiavone - The Marriage of Cupid and Psyche - 1540s - Oil on wood, transferred to masonite - Overall, with corners made up, 51 1/2 x 61 7/8 in. (130.8 x 157.2 cm); painted surface 50 1/2 x 61 1/2 in. (128.3 x 156.2 cm) - Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (click photo for larger image)Andrea Schiavone (Andrea Meldolla) (c. 1510-1563) was an Italian painter and etcher, born in present-day Croatia.  His nickname "Schiavone" means Slav, reflecting the fact that he came from Zara, Dalmatia (then under Venetian jurisdiction).

He worked mainly in Venice, where he was on friendly terms with Titian, who—along with Parmigianino—was one of the main influences on his style. (The latter are both discussed elsewhere on What About Art?). Schiavone’s most characteristic works were small-scale religious or mythological scenes for private patrons, executed in a vigorous, painterly style. 

The painting featured here represents the marriage of the god Cupid (son of Venus) with the mortal Psyche, in the presence of Juno, Jupiter, Mars, and other gods of Olympus, as narrated by Apuleius in The Golden Ass. Originally an octagon (the four corners are additions), it was the central panel of a ceiling with scenes from the legend of Psyche painted by Schiavone in about 1550 for the Castello di Salvatore di Collalto, in the hills to the north of Venice. Schiavone’s fluid and painterly style and the exaggerated proportions of his figures were inspired by Parmigianino (discussed elsewhere on What About Art?) and were in turn important to a younger generation of painters, such as Tintoretto (also discussed elsewhere on this site).


Francesco Albani: The Annunciation

Francesco Albani - The Annunciation - n.d. - Oil on copper - 62 x 47 cm. - The Hermitage, St. Petersburg (click photo for larger image)Francesco Albani (1578-1660) was an Italian Baroque painter who was active in Bologna, Rome, Viterbo, Mantova, and Florence. He studied in Bologna with the Mannerist painter Denijs Calvaert before joining the Carracci Academy. While at the academy, he was an enthusiastic pupil. Like so many other artists from Bologna, he moved to Rome to study classical art, which he then applied with zeal to his own work. Albani's classicism can be seen in the altarpieces he painted after returning to Bologna, and in the cycles he painted on mythological subjects. 

Albani almost single-handedly created an appetite for light-hearted, pleasant works that lasted throughout the seventeenth century.

Albani painted many versions of the Annunciation, one of which is featured here.


Amico Aspertini: A Half-Insane Master

Amico Aspertini - Heroic Head - Tempera on wood, 37,5 x 36,5 cm - Christian Museum, Esztergom, Hungary (click photo for larger image)Amico Aspertini (ca. 1475-1552) was an Italian Mannerist painter from Bologna. Giorgio Vasari describes him as having an eccentric personality—in his word “half-insane”. This is revealed in his paintings, which are often bizarre in expression. Aspetini was in Rome 1500-03 and his sketchbooks of Roman remains (British Museum, London) are important sources about contemporary knowledge of the antique.

The monochrome painting featured here, with the stone-like frame, appears as a relief. It is interesting to note that the bust is not in the painted frame, but before it. This was an unusual feature at the time.


Paolo Farinati: A Master of Verona

Paolo Farinati - The Mystic Marriage of St Catherine - n.d. - Oil on slate - 30x23 cm - Private Collection (click photo for larger image)Paolo Farinati (1524-1606) was an Italian Mannerist artist of the Veronese school. Indeed, he was one of the leading 16th-century painters at Verona. Most of his vast output of paintings was completed for churches in Verona and its environs, where much of it has survived. He was strongly influenced by his younger contemporary Paolo Veronese (1528-1588) and also by Parmigianino (1503-1540), among others. He executed a few engravings, some architectural projects (which apparently included work on the Castello San Felice at Verona), and a great many drawings. 

In the work featured here, painting on slate the artist exploited the oil medium to add prominence to the figures, thrown into relief against the dark background and foliage. The highlights in the drapery of the figures, with shimmering touches of white, is reminiscent of Paolo Veronese. Typically favoring line over color, a strong chiaroscuro effect emerges from this work.


Maniera — Style!

Sebastiano del Piombo - Portrait of Cardinal Reginald Pole - 1540s - Oil on canvas, 112 x 95 cm - The Hermitage, St. Petersburg (click photo for larger image)Mannerism, the artistic style which gained popularity in the period following the High Renaissance, takes as its ideals the work of Raphael and Michelangelo. Mannerist Art is typically characterized by a complex composition, with muscular and elongated figures in intricate, sometimes convoluted poses, and a “pushing” of color boundaries. 

Michelangelo (1475-1564), who is covered extensively on this website is widely credited with beginning the Mannerist movement (thought not formally). Other leading Mannerist artists included Rosso Fiorentino, Pontormo, and Parmigiano.

By the late 16th century, there were several anti-Mannerist attempts to reinvigorate art with greater naturalism and emotionalism. These developed into the grand Baroque style, which dominated the 17th century and coincided with the Counter-Reformation. It was Mannerism, however, that was indeed much more modern and forward thinking. While the public loved the style however, the Church did not. And the Church, continued to be art’s greatest patron during this era.

A perhaps lesser known but nevertheless important Mannerist was Sebastiano del Piombo (c. 1485-1547). An Italian painter of the Venetian School (who actually began his professional life as a musician) he was the only major artist of the period to combine the coloring of the Venetian School with the monumental forms of the Roman school.

The subject of the painting featured here—Reginald Pole (1500-1558)—was an English prelate, a Cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church, and the last Roman Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury during the Counter Reformation against the Church of England. You’ll notice that his pose is somewhat awkward—that there is nothing in the space behind him—and that the colors are somewhat “bumped up” in this work. This is all typical of Mannerism.