Parmigianino, Francesco Primaticcio, Giuseppe Arcimboldo

10 Art Painters in the Mannerism Period (c. 1520s - 1600)

Mannerism, a prominent artistic style that emerged in the late 16th century, marked a transition between the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Often characterized by its intellectual and highly stylized approach, Mannerism challenged the naturalism and balance of the Renaissance, opting for exaggerated forms, elongated proportions, and intricate compositions. This article delves into the works of ten notable Mannerist painters, shedding light on their masterpieces and the contextual significance of their creations.

1. Jacopo Pontormo (1494–1557) 

Pontormo, an influential Florentine artist, showcased his Mannerist flair through his unique compositions and vivid color palettes. Notable paintings include:

  • Entombment (1525–1528): This emotionally charged artwork presents a complex arrangement of figures, with elongated forms emphasizing the grief of Christ's followers.
  • Deposition from the Cross (1525–1528): Demonstrating his innovative style, Pontormo creates an intimate and emotive scene, emphasizing the emotional turmoil of the moment.

2. Rosso Fiorentino (1494–1540) 

A contemporary of Pontormo, Rosso Fiorentino's art is characterized by its dramatic use of color and dynamic compositions. His notable works include:

  • Descent from the Cross (1521): Rosso's vibrant colors and exaggerated forms create a sense of movement and emotion, capturing the solemnity of the scene.
  • Allegory of the Virtues and Vices (1523): This allegorical painting showcases his Mannerist tendencies with intricate detailing and symbolic imagery.

3. Parmigianino (1503–1540) 

Known for his virtuoso technique and elegant style, Parmigianino's work reflects a sense of refinement and grandeur. Key works include:

  • Madonna with the Long Neck (1534–1540): The elongated figures and ethereal atmosphere in this painting emphasize the spiritual dimension, a hallmark of Mannerism.
  • Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (1523): Parmigianino's self-portrait experiments with distorted perspectives, showcasing his innovative approach.

4. Agnolo Bronzino (1503–1572) 

Bronzino, a court painter in Florence, embraced the artificiality and grace characteristic of Mannerism. Notable pieces are:

  • Portrait of Eleonora of Toledo and Her Son (1545): This regal portrait exemplifies Bronzino's meticulous attention to detail and courtly elegance.
  • Allegory of Venus and Cupid (1545): In this allegorical painting, the artist's refined technique is evident in the delicate rendering of flesh and fabric.

5. El Greco (1541–1614) 

While transitioning from the Renaissance to the Baroque, El Greco's work displays Mannerist elements. Notable artworks include:

  • The Burial of the Count of Orgaz (1586–1588): This monumental painting showcases elongated figures and a mystical atmosphere, embodying El Greco's spiritual vision.
  • View of Toledo (1596–1600): Although not religious, this landscape features distorted perspectives and dramatic lighting that are indicative of Mannerist influences.

6. Francesco Primaticcio (1504–1570) 

Active in the French court, Primaticcio's works reflect Mannerist aesthetics. Notable pieces are:

  • Gallery of Ulysses (1530s–1560s): This decorative project incorporates intricate Mannerist designs in its portrayal of Ulysses' journey.
  • Frescoes at the Château de Fontainebleau (mid-16th century): Primaticcio's frescoes display his ability to blend mythological themes with intricate detailing.

7. Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1526–1593) 

Renowned for his eccentric approach, Arcimboldo's imaginative creations merge portraiture with symbolism. Notable works include:

  • Four Seasons series (1563): These composite portraits made up of objects associated with the seasons showcase Arcimboldo's inventive genius.
  • The Librarian (1566): In this whimsical portrait, books and manuscripts form the subject's face, highlighting Arcimboldo's unconventional vision.

8. Hans von Aachen (1552–1615) 

A Northern European Mannerist, von Aachen's works feature intricate compositions and a vibrant color palette. Notable pieces are:

  • The Triumph of Truth (1585): This allegorical painting incorporates various symbolic elements and showcases von Aachen's attention to detail.
  • Allegory of the Arts (1590): The painting presents an elaborate composition depicting various art forms, reflecting the artist's intellectual engagement.

9. Federico Barocci (1535–1612) 

Though rooted in the late Renaissance, Federico Barocci's style foreshadowed Mannerism. Noteworthy works include:

  • The Nativity (1597): Barocci's soft, delicate approach and intimate portrayal of the Nativity scene hint at Mannerist sensibilities.
  • Aeneas' Flight from Troy (1598): This historical painting displays Barocci's skillful rendering of emotion and dynamic action.

10. Tintoretto (1518–1594)

Tintoretto, whose real name was Jacopo Comin, was a prominent Mannerist painter from Venice, Italy. He was known for his bold and innovative approach to art during the late Renaissance and early Baroque periods. Notable works include:

  • "The Last Supper" (1592–1594): Tintoretto's depiction of the Last Supper is one of his most famous works. In this painting, he deviates from the traditional composition and places the figures in a dynamic and dramatic setting. The use of dramatic lighting and bold colors adds a sense of tension and emotion to the scene.
  • "Paradise" (c. 1588): This enormous painting, located in the Doge's Palace in Venice, is a masterpiece of Tintoretto's later career. It portrays a heavenly scene with numerous figures ascending to paradise. Tintoretto's skill in creating a sense of movement and grandeur is evident in this monumental work.


The Mannerist period, spanning from the late 14th to the 17th century, witnessed the rise of artists who embraced innovation and complexity in their works. From elongated figures to imaginative compositions, these painters left an indelible mark on the art world, challenging conventions and laying the groundwork for the Baroque era that followed. The unique style of each artist highlighted their individual creativity and contribution to the evolution of art during this intriguing and transformative period.


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