Sixteenth century style characterised by artificiality, elegance and sensuous distortion of the human figure

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  • British School 16th century, 'An Allegory of Man' 1596 or after

    British School 16th century
    An Allegory of Man 1596 or after
    Oil on wood
    support: 570 x 514 mm
    Presented by the Patrons of British Art 1990

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  • Marcus Gheeraerts II, 'Portrait of a Man in Classical Dress, possibly Philip Herbert, 4th Earl of Pembroke' circa 1610

    Marcus Gheeraerts II
    Portrait of a Man in Classical Dress, possibly Philip Herbert, 4th Earl of Pembroke circa 1610
    Oil on oak panel
    support: 556 x 446 mm frame: 690 x 577 x 70 mm
    Purchased 1982

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  • Henry Fuseli, 'The Debutante' 1807

    Henry Fuseli
    The Debutante 1807
    Watercolour and drawing on paper
    frame: 691 x 558 x 22 mm support: 371 x 243 mm image: 357 x 232 mm
    Presented by Lady Holroyd in accordance with the wishes of the late Sir Charles Holroyd 1919

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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.