with a Foreword by Craig Hugh Smyth- Second Printing
Edited By Liana De Girolami Cheney
MANIERA AS AN AESTHETIC IDEAL: John Shearman 35
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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