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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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OBSERVATIONS ON THE USE OF THE CONCEPT OF MANNERISM Henri Zerner Mannerism has been a central subject of art historical discussions during the last half century. The term as a historical and critical category has meanwhile been adopted by students of music and literature and by cultural historians and has become the name of an age of civilization. Thus, art history bears a heavy responsibility, and while the art historian might be tempted to drop this by-now unwieldy, cumbersome notion altogether, he owes it to his colleagues to try to elucidate the possible uses of the word and the causes of the present state of confusion. If nothing more, I should like to make it clear to students of music and literature that their difficulty in using the concept of mannerism does not spring exclusively from applying a concept evolved in another discipline. The debate developed with the partial rehabilitation of the art that separates the High Renaissance from the baroque. This period was condemned as "mannerist" by the seventeenth century, and this anathema lasted until the end of the nineteenth. It was only with the questioning of classical norms, particularly under the influence of an expressionist sensibility in early twentieth-century Germany and Austria, that the situation was reexamined, and at that point the term emerged as a stylistic category without derogatory implications. I should like to distinguish two trends during this initial period of reassessment. Max Dvorak characterizes mannerism directly in terms of expressive content.1 Mannerism is defined as...

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