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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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MANNERISM: THE HISTORIOGRAPHIC BACKGROUND Ernst Hans Gombrich It is important at this point to state that there is no one definite principle available a priori and enabfing a classification suitable for every purpose to be made ... The necessity of introducing some classification and the caprice attaching to it. i~ m?st stri~ing ... in history ... the n.ecess~ty continu~lly ar!ses of making d1stmct10ns which are seen on close consideration to be flmd and madequate ... Max Planckl Anyone who has read through G. N. Fasola's useful paper 'Storiografia del manierismo'2 or, better still, through the literature she listed or overlooked-and I cannot claim to belong to this second category-will realize how applicable this extract from Max Planck is to our particular problem. In such a Babylonian confusion of tongues it may well be useful, as a preparatory step, to go back to the origins of the concept of mannerism. The four brief texts I have assembled and translated here are intended to facilitate this orientation.3 If they seem at first to be out of place in a discussion of recent concepts, I would plead that, as historians, we know how intimately the 'recent' is bound up with the remote. Nowhere, moreover, is this more relevant than in the study of such categories as are represented by our stylistic concepts. There are historians who are 'realists' in the mediaeval sense of the term. Holding fast to the belief that universalia sunt ante rem, they would maintain that mannerism, for instance,...

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