National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION

Tour: Mannerism

Overview | Start Tour

image of Charity image of Portrait of a Man image of Madonna and Child with Saint Elizabeth and Saint John the Baptist
1 2 3
image of The Nativity image of Monsignor della Casa image of The Holy Family
4 5 6
« back to Italian painting of the 16th century


The term mannerism describes the style of the paintings and bronze sculpture on this tour. Derived from the Italian maniera, meaning simply “style,” mannerism is sometimes defined as the “stylish style” for its emphasis on self-conscious artifice over realistic depiction. The sixteenth-century artist and critic Vasari—himself a mannerist—believed that excellence in painting demanded refinement, richness of invention, and virtuoso technique, criteria that emphasized the artist’s intellect. More important than his carefully recreated observation of nature was the artist’s mental conception and its elaboration. This intellectual bias was, in part, a natural consequence of the artist’s new status in society. No longer regarded as craftsmen, painters and sculptors took their place with scholars, poets, and humanists in a climate that fostered an appreciation for elegance, complexity, and even precocity.



1Andrea del Sarto, Charity, before 1530
2Rosso Fiorentino, Portrait of a Man, early 1520s
3Jacopino del Conte, Madonna and Child with Saint Elizabeth and Saint John the Baptist, c. 1535
4Perino del Vaga, The Nativity, 1534
5Pontormo, Monsignor della Casa, probably 1541/1544
6Agnolo Bronzino, The Holy Family, c. 1527/1528
7Agnolo Bronzino, A Young Woman and Her Little Boy, c. 1540
8Adriaen de Vries, Empire Triumphant over Avarice, 1610