The term ‘‘mannerist’’ was given first to Italian artists who used exaggeration, distortion, and expressiveness to free themselves from the High Renaissance style. Scholars originally applied this term derisively, implying a derivative or decadent style. More recently, mannerism has been seen as a search for new expressive methods outside the formal standards of Renaissance harmony and order.
exaggeration and distortion is evident in the works of the Venetian,
Jacopo Tintoretto (1518-1594). His Last Supperis a masterpiece
of late mannerist style, and a striking contrast to Leonardo da
Vinci’s version. Whereas Leonardo placed Christ as the geometric
focal point of his painting, Tintoretto’s Christ is distinguished mainly
by his mysterious halo. Directional forces such as the diagonally
placed table, glances, and gestures all lead the viewer’s eye in a complete
circle around the room’s figures. The lantern’s smoke is transmuted
into angels, while in the foreground servants and everyday objects glow
in a mystical light. The picture communicates the profound mystery
of the Last Supper, suggesting the transformation of matter into spirit.