A Journey through the History of Mannerism and Baroque

There is no denial to the fact that in the last two decades we have witnessed numerous advancements in technology that have penetrated and impacted almost every field. Nowadays, not only groceries and clothes are available over the Internet, but people can also buy paintings over the Internet. The arrival and acceptance of Internet has made this possible. In the last few years we have witnessed that everything from books, to newspapers has become digitalized. In this modern era where people prefer to buy paintings online, this article aims at acquainting its readers and art lovers with two important art movements – Mannerism and Baroque, that the world witnessed in the 16th century. So, welcome aboard. We will cover a journey through the history of art, will travel along a timeline from Post-Renaissance and trace the rise of Mannerism and Baroque.

If you are an art collector who loves to read about art history and buy paintings online, then you must be aware that no single work of art speaks more clearly to the mood that ended the Renaissance than Michelangelo’s the Last Judgement painted on the towering west wall of the Sistine Chapel in 1541. During the span of years between the unveiling of the Sistine’s ceiling in 1512, a foreign army had marched through Italy, laid siege to Rome, looted the city and ravaged the Renaissance. Painted at the wake of devastation, the last judgement was classical in the nudity characteristic of Michelangelo. But post Renaissance, in its atmosphere of terror, judgment had come, not just to humanity but also to the established church. Long, corrupt and decadent, faced with an existential threat from the Protestants, the church, now the Roman Catholic Church had to keep the faithful, faithful and define new converts. Artists were given a new task not just to fuse ancient wisdom with Christian doctrines but to present a purified vision of a more spiritual religion. The wall of art was now to touch the heart, stir the census and reach the soul. The artistic tactics were borrowed from the theater – dramatic scenes, strong storylines even or especially shock and awe. Belatedly, this Post-Renaissance era would be divided by art historians into two parts. First, in reaction to the classicism with the Renaissance was a rather unusual phenomenon which occurred – a generational rebellion against the prevailing style. Mannerism was more of an artist’s reaction to the art of their predecessors. The famous literary critic and theorist Harold Bloom noted that the stylistics swerve away from the tenants of the Renaissance, logic, calm, balance, and rationality exemplified by Raphael. We refer to this Post-Renaissance deconstruction of classicism as Mannerism to connote the mannered and self-conscious commentary on Renaissance’s predecessors. Seeds of mannerism can be discerned in Michelangelo’s emotional late sculptures such as his ‘Dying Slave’ and Raphael’s last work ‘The Transfiguration,’ which was completed in 1520. The mannerist artists such as Pontomo undoubtedly, with the encouragement of their patrons, selected acid and strange colors, and distorted the scale and shape of bodies. Tintoretto portrayed irrational moments in religion all through deconstructing classicism. In other words, this phase of moving out of and away from the Renaissance was artistically sophisticated, directed more towards kind of source rather than to the general public which would be puzzled by an art that seemed so bizarre and unconventional. Moreover, such self-indulgence was frowned upon by the official institutions that would dictate the rules of art for the rest of the Post-Renaissance period. People still love to buy original paintings online and art prints of the paintings created by Mannerist artists.

The next two centuries post the Renaissance period were named Baroque, a term indicating an irregular pearl suggesting a shift away from the logical construction of the Renaissance to the more curvilinear and freewheeling dynamic forms of the new style. Like Mannerism, Baroque was based upon the Renaissance classical foundations and like Mannerism, it challenged the artists to transform a stale language into an active one all under the watchful and censorious eyes of the ever suspicious Catholic Church and the Spanish Inquisition. The brief period of artistic freedom enjoyed by the geniuses of the Renaissance was over. Artists had lost their freedom, but were allowed to keep the gains of individuality. Now, artists were known by name like Caravaggio, Gentileschi and Bernini. They were known for their identifiable styles and their inventive approaches. The age of the famous and infamous artists had begun.