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Readings in Italian Mannerism

with a Foreword by Craig Hugh Smyth- Second Printing

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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 AND MOVEMENT: THE FIGURA SERPENTINATA: David Summers 273

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MANIERA AND MOVEMENT: THE FIGURA SERPENTINAT A David Summers The term figura serpentinata appears once in Cinquecento art theory: it was attributed to Michelangelo by G. P. Lomazzo in his Trattato dell'Arte de la Pittura, published in 1584. Since Lomazzo was the most compendious spokesman of mannerism and since he associated the figura serpentinata with Michelangelo, it was inevitable that the idea should have taken an important place in the discussion of sixteenth-century art and theory. But its fame was assured-and its subsequent interpretation pretty much determined-when it was chanced upon by Hogarth, who made it the emblem and governing idea for his Analysis of Beauty, published in 1753. Hogarth considerably elaborated "the precept which Michelangelo delivered so long ago in an oracle-like manner" and spun meanings around the few cryptic words which were far from either Lomazzo's or Michelangelo's intentions. He illustrated the first two terms of Lomazzo's introductory phrase- that the painter "should always make a figure pyramidal, Serpent- like and multiplied by one two and three"-with a diminishing helix, gotten by the slow, regular movement of a point around a cone. Visible bodies, Hogarth believed, should be regarded as surfaces made up of lines, of which the most beautiful was the serpentine line this, "by its waving and winding at the same time in different ways, leads the eye in a pleasing manner along the continuity of its variety ... see where that sort of proportional, winding line, or line of grace, is represented by a fine...

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