Mannerism is a very recent term. It was invented in 1965 by Mr. André Chastel, a great art historian and curator of the exhibition of what was called at the time the 2nd European Renaissance, organized at the Louvre Museum in Paris.
For centuries, when one spoke of the
Renaissance, one referred to the era
starting with Fra Angelico and ending with Michelangelo.
The intermediate period between the Renaissance and the Baroque period was called the 2nd Renaissance. It brought together artists such as Il Bronzino, Pontormo, Lotto, Laudini, Giambologna, Parmigiano and Vignola.
( Some Italian Renaissance works and some Italian Mannerist works, for comparison )
In general,these artists were completely ignored by the public. Even the curious public,
knowledgeable and erudite, detested them.
Time has passed. Idols fall, new values come into play. Raphael was ostracized and, today, is still rather badly viewed. Curiously enough, Il Bronzino, on the other hand, is the subject of research, books and far more numerous exhibitions.
Mr. Chastel had the courage to organize this formidable exhibition in the Petit Palais, the Grand Palais and the Louvre simultaneously, bringing together what he was able to obtain from museums in the Netherlands, Italy, England and France. By means of this exhibition and a very thick catalogue, he was able to introduce Mannerism to the general public.
When Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael died, Italian society demanded that young artists immemorialize their forefathers' genius and glory by imitating their manners. An imitative style of their manners, from which came the name of Mannerists, which Mr. Chastel bestowed on these young painters who worked from 1530 until approximately 1610 and would only be supplanted by the birth of the Baroque period.
Mannerism is the missing link between the Renaissance and the Baroque.
Mannerism requires that its artists create works that enchant, surprise, frighten and unnerve. One should not try to view a Mannerist work in a cold and aesthetic manner.
In Piero della Francesca's era and, even more so in Masaccio's, one could admire calmly. A Mannerist viewer cannot keep his calm. He needs the stridency of sound, be it in a burst of laughter, or in the most unbridled, fundamental anguish. He needs to be exacerbated. That is why the bizarre is appropriate in those gardens.