Art Term


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

Unknown artist, Britain, ‘An Allegory of Man’ 1596 or after
Unknown artist, Britain
An Allegory of Man 1596 or after

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.

Related terms and concepts

  • Elizabethan

    Elizabethan refers to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I from 1558 to 1603 which saw a flowering of the arts ...

  • Renaissance

    French word meaning rebirth, now used in English to describe the great revival of art that took place in Italy ...

selected artworks in the collection