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Readings in Italian Mannerism

with a Foreword by Craig Hugh Smyth- Second Printing


Edited By Liana De Girolami Cheney

The aim of this book is to focus on the origin of the historiography of the terms Mannerism and Maniera in paintings and drawings of the sixteenth-century in Italy. The articles herewith presented fall into two categories. The first group explains the definition of the terms Mannerism and Maniera, their periodicity, and their sources as illustrated by Giorogio Vasari, John Shearman, Craig Hugh Smyth, and Sydney Freedberg. The second deals with the polemic associated with the usage of the term and historiography and its application as voiced by Walter Friedlaender, Max Dvorak, Ernst Gombrich, Henri Zerner, David Summers, Malcolm Campbell, and Iris Cheney.


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MANIERA AS AN AESTHETIC IDEAL John Shearman If we survey, from a distance, recent concepts of mannerism, we must admit that the situation is fluid and in certain areas chaotic. I suppose that students of no other period that has a name-Romanesque, baroque, postimpressionist-are so haunted by, or so much in disagreement over, the meaning of that name. There need be no hesitation in thinking again about the problem, even on the grounds of convenience, since there is no unanimity in the way the term mannerism is used-what qualities in a work it exemplifies, to what groups of works it applies. I suggest that there is a reason for this situation. In this century, definitions have been fabricated by historians, rightly intent on dispelling earlier prejudices against so much of sixteenth-century art, and each historian has felt free to make his own definition and to choose whatever works he would like to apply it to. No wonder that definitions vary so widely, for most are, in my view, arbitrary.l When quite recently historians looked again at the cinquecento, they found in it vital currents of style to which prejudice had taught them to be blind. By an accident-the clear sympathy established by early-twentieth-century tastes-the current that aroused most enthusiasm embraced the early work of Rosso, Pontormo, Beccafumi, and Parmigianino, and since mannerism, a term they inherited, applied to the cinquecento, many of them freely applied it to this current. With infinitely varying emphasis, detail, and choice of personalities, and with...

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