Mannerism matters in Germany over the next few months as the Städel Museum in Frankfurt has recently mounted a monumental exhibition that includes the style’s biggest names from 16th0century Italy.
Although Mannerism is a vexing style to some, there can be no doubt that any opportunity to view original works by Pontormo, Bronzino, Andrea del Sarto, Rosso, and Vasari in one location is enthralling. “Maniera” opened on February 24 at Frankfurt’s Städel Museum and is the first presentation of such distinguished Florentine Mannerists in Germany.

Agnolo Bronzino, “St. Sebastian,” ca. 1528-1529, oil on wood, 87 x 76.5 cm.
(c) Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid 2016

“Maniera” has a decidedly Florentine focus and draws attention to the city as one of the first centers of the European Mannerism. Featuring over 120 stunning works, the exhibition tells a comprehensive story of Mannerism’s evolution, from its Medici roots in 1512 to the 1568 publication of Vasari’s “Lives” — widely considered to be the first art historical text filled with artist biographies. In fact, it was Vasari who coined the colorful term “maniera” in his “Lives,” using the word to categorize the bizarre, exaggerated, capricious, and elegant style of the preceding decades.

Raphael, “Virgin and Child with the Young Saint John the Baptist,” ca. 1508, oil on wood, 29 x 21.5 cm. (c) Szepmuveszeti Muzeum, Budapest 2016

Via the museum’s webpage, “In 1967, the art historian John Shearman summed it up in a catchy formula — ‘the stylish style.’ Its sophisticated grace and creative tenacity make the ‘maniera’ one of the most fascinating phenomena in the art of Italy.

Giorgio Vasari, “Venus at her Toilet,” ca. 1558, oil on wood, 154 x 124.7 cm. (c) Staatsgalerie Stuttgart 2016

“One of the most exquisite works in the Städel holdings — Bronzino’s famous ‘Portrait of a Lady in Red (Francesca Salviati?)’ (ca. 1533) — formed the point of departure for this ambitious show. The project is being carried out with special support from the museums of Florence, above all the Uffizi, the Galleria dell’Accademia and the Galleria Palatina. Further key loans will come from such prominent museums as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the Paris Louvre, the Prado and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid, the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, the Szépművészeti Múzeum in Budapest and the Brera in Milan.”

“Maniera” will be on view through June 5. To learn more, visit the Städel Museum.

This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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