Anti-Mannerism (Walter Friedlaender) and The Council of Trent (Rudolf Wittkower)
n.b. 'organic' metaphors used to describe style: "...diagnosed as symptoms of a disease..."; exaggerations of its original nature"; "signs of overbreeding, and hence sterility"
The term maniera - "making by hand" "mode" "style" "manner"
"The [sculptor] needs no model from nature, but follows a specific prototype, or the established precepts of a school. The mechanical attitude engenders conformity or, in other words, "manner".
Unoriginal - repeats manually something predetermined
When this empty stereotyping utilizes forms or formulae inherited from a style already abstract, anormative, and remote from nature, the result must necessarily be something merely decorative or ornamental.
For Friedlaender, mannerism is 'anticlasscial'
two phases of mannerism
An "extraordinary decline in quality" since High Renaissance
'Reform' involved returning to High Renaissance principles ["grandfather law"]
"...the mannered Mannerism of the second phase, against whose shallowness, even in spiritual matters, the reform which set in around 1580 was directed."
S. Lorenzo, Florence, c. 1545-50
The Council of Trent and the Arts: Rome 1585-1621 (Rudolf Wittkower)
Council of Trent, last session, December 1561 - defined the role assigned to the arts
Religious imagery was admitted and welcomed as a support to religious teaching
One passage of the decree demands that 'by means of the stories of the mysteries of our Redemption portrayed by paintings or other representations, the people be instructed and confirmed in the habit of remembering, and continually revolving in mind the articles of faith'.
Recommendations of various writers may be summarized under three headings:
'PC' images ('piously correct') are meant to:
Most of the artists working roughly between l550 and 1590 practised a style that was
virtuosity of execution and highly decorative surface qualities go with compositional decentralization and spatial and colouristic complexities
deliberate physical and psychic ambiguities puzzle the beholder
intricacies of handling are often matched by the intricacies of content.
many pictures and fresco cycles of the period are obscure and esoteric
little power to stir religious emotions in the mass of the faithful.
lacked clarity, realism, and emotional intensity.
Changes begin to appear from 1580s on
Federico Barocci, Nativity
Santi di Tito, Saint Thomas Aquinas Dedicating His Works to Christ
Jacopo Ligozzi, Martyrdom of Saint Catherine
Annibale Carracci, The Dead Christ Mourned, c. 1603
Caravaggio, Supper at Emmaus, c. 1600
© Christopher L. C. E. Witcombe