Art Term

Mannerist

Mannerist is a sixteenth century style of art and design characterised by artificiality, elegance and sensuous distortion of the human figure

British School 16th century, ‘An Allegory of Man’ 1596 or after
British School 16th century
An Allegory of Man 1596 or after
Tate
Marcus Gheeraerts II, ‘Portrait of a Man in Classical Dress, possibly Philip Herbert, 4th Earl of Pembroke’ c.1610
Marcus Gheeraerts II
Portrait of a Man in Classical Dress, possibly Philip Herbert, 4th Earl of Pembroke c.1610
Tate
Henry Fuseli, ‘The Debutante’ 1807
Henry Fuseli
The Debutante 1807
Tate

Mannerism is the name given to the style followers of Raphael and Michelangelo from around 1520–1600. Mannerist artists were influenced by, but also reacted to, the work of the Renaissance masters. Rather than adopting the harmonious ideals associated with Raphael and Michelangelo, they went a step further to create highly artificial compositions which showed off their techniques and skills in manipulating compositional elements to create a sense of sophisticated elegance.

Mannerism spread all over Europe, and in Britain the elegant artificiality of Elizabethan court painting can be seen as an echo of it. It also influenced later artists such as Henry Fuseli.