The main difference between High Renaissance and Mannerism is that the High Renaissance is known for naturalism and harmonious compositions while Mannerism is known for artificial and sophisticated qualities.
Mannerism and High Renaissance are two distinct styles of European art during the 16th century. Legendary artists like Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael are artists of the High Renaissance period. Mannerism is the art style that came after the High Renaissance but before the Baroque period. In fact, Mannerism was a reaction to the harmonious classicism and naturalism of High Renaissance art.
Key Areas Covered
High Renaissance, Mannerism, Art, Sculpture
What is High Renaissance
The High Renaissance was a brief period (nearly two decades) at the beginning of the 16th century that resulted in exquisite artistic production in Italy. Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Bramante, and Raphael were notable artists of this period. In fact, this period began with the masterpieces of Leonardo da Vinci, especially his painting of The Last Supper (the 1490s), and ended with the death of Raphael in 1520.
High Renaissance used more monumental forms and produced unified and harmonious compositions, rejecting the decorative elements of 15th-century art. Artists of the High Renaissance were greatly influenced by shading, linear perspective, as well as the naturalistic figurative treatment started by artists of the Early Renaissance. Moreover, High Renaissance artists mastered these techniques to bring out a new aesthetic ideal valuing beauty. They used new techniques like oil paintings to portray human movement and used gradation of color and tone to convey psychological depth. Some of the notable characteristics in paintings of this period involve linear perspective, realistic portrayal of physical and psychological features, manipulation of light and darkness, which includes chiaroscuro (the contrast between light and dark), sfumato (softening the transition between colours), and tone contrast.
Furthermore, High Renaissance artists saw the human figure as embodying the divine and gained inspiration from Classical and Roman styles to convey anatomical correctness and precise proportions of the body. Michelangelo’s Pietà and David are two iconic sculptures from this period.
What is Mannerism
Mannerism is the style of art in Europe from 1520 to 1600, which came after the period of the High Renaissance but before the Baroque. However, it’s important to know that not every artist painting from this period is a Mannerist artist. Art from Mannerism included a variety of styles influenced by and reacting to the harmonious ideals and naturalism of High Renaissance art. Mannerism is also notable for its artificial (as opposed to the naturalist style of the High Renaissance) and sophisticated qualities.
Art scholars divide this style into two periods. Early mannerism paintings included a collapsed perspective, elongated forms, irrational settings, theatrical lighting, and precariously balanced poses. Jacopo da Pontormo and Rosso Fiorentino are two artists from this period. Some also describe this as an anti-classical phase. The second period in Mannerism is called the “Maniera Greca.” Artists in this period were inspired by Byzantine art and stressed intellectual conceits and artistic virtuosity. When considering Mannerism sculpture, they too are known for elongated forms, twisting poses, spiral angles, and aloof subject gazes.
Difference Between High Renaissance and Mannerism
High Renaissance is an artistic style at the beginning of the 16th century that resulted in exquisite artistic production in Italy, while Mannerism is the style of art in Europe from 1520 to 1600, which came after the period of the High Renaissance but before the Baroque period.
Linear perspective, realistic portrayal of physical and psychological features, ideal forms, and harmonious compositions are some notable features of High Renaissance paintings. In contrast, collapsed perspective, elongated forms, irrational settings, theatrical lighting, precariously balanced poses, intellectual conceits, and artistic virtuosity are the features of Mannerist paintings.
High Renaissance sculpture is known for forms with perfect proportions and restrained beauty, while Mannerism sculpture is known for elongated forms, twisted poses, spiral angels, and aloof subject gazes.
Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Bramante, and Raphael were notable artists of High Renaissance while Jacopo da Pontormo, Rosso Fiorentino, Giulio Romano, Perino del Vaga, and Polidoro da Caravaggio are some Mannerist artists.
Mannerism and High Renaissance are two distinct styles of European art during the 16th century. The main difference between High Renaissance and Mannerism is that the High Renaissance is known for harmonious classicism and naturalism, while Mannerism is known for artificial and sophisticated qualities.
1. “The Last Supper Leonardo Da Vinci – High Resolution” By Leonardo da Vinci – online (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Jacopo Pontormo 004” By Pontormo – The Yorck Project (2002) 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei (DVD-ROM), distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH. ISBN: 3936122202. (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia