Mannerism is known to have been created as a rejection of High Renaissance
between the years of 1520 and 1600. The stylistic characteristic of Mannerism
is the emotion and distortion of the experimental, elongated forms. The acid
colors were seemingly symbolic of the emphasis on self conscious artifice over
realistic depiction. The people of this period were tired of the stiff figures
of the renaissance, and countered this with the exaggerated forms of Mannerist
The artists that paved the way for Mannerism was Michelangelo, which had in
turn had influenced Raphael. Michelangelo’s work that most reflected the
mannerist movement was the Last Judgment, the Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel,
and the Rodanini Pieta. Michelangelo and Raphael were not true mannerist painters;
their later works simply reflected the shift that would occur near the end of
Raphael’s life. Michelangelo was an excellent segues into the mannerist
period from the renaissance period.
El Greco of Spain was an epitome of the Mannerist painting style. An excellent
example of his work is St Peter in Penitence in the San Diego Museum of Art
. Notice the twisting forms used to display the detail of his arm. The
form is elongated with a separate rule of proportion from the Renaissance period.
Also, the figure is more emotional than the stiff and stylized Renaissance style
that preceded it. The colors are more acidic; blues mixed into the skin colors
and greys used for other areas of the face and body. The background is a very
dark color, however, there is not a extremely large contrast between the light
and dark of the image which was seen in later in the Baroque period.
The baroque art period had started during an age of enlightenment. During the
17th century, it was discovered that the earth was in fact not the center of
the universe, and with the discovery of the Americas, that Europe was not the
center of the world. The Catholic Church was undergoing massive changes due
to a brief revival after the rise of the protestant church. In order to gain
new support for the faith, the church had called for realistic and dramatic
Baroque had emerged into an art type that focused more on the peasant class
in more naturalistic settings than the earlier art types. Each of the subjects
began to show more movement and energy, having their own personalities with
intense spirituality. The intense emotion reflected in this art was further
dramatized by the heavy contrast between light and dark images.
The Baroque period is sometimes considered a counter shift of mannerism (which
was clearly a counter shift of high renaissance). Artists of this time tried
to bring back naturalism and more human emotion. Spiritually was also revived,
giving way to more religious paintings. It managed to come away with the emotion
used for Mannerism painting but made it more realistic, geared toward the peasant
class and commanworth. The paintings of the Baroque period were much easier
to identify with than the mannerist and renaissance.
During the Baroque period, the most famous Spanish Baroque painter was Velasquez.
Diego Velasquez was best known for his paintings of the royal family. A comparative
example in this case, however, is a picture of his servant Juan de Pareja. The
image isn’t as obviously dramatic as El Greco images, but
it is more natural than previous works in art history. The colors are subtle,
and more natural looking. Chiaroscuro is apparent with the heavy shadows. Also
notice that this image isn’t associated with religious mythology at all.
Art of this time was able to be more adventurous in terms of subject, not being
The shift from the Mannerism to baroque period was relevant because of its
appropriate shift from the stiff classical renaissance to a more realistic and
emotional baroque period. Mannerism was possibly too crazy to stick around for
very long, but it was just enough to make a public statement: art needed to
change into something the people could identify with.