Palladio’s most famous country estate on the mainland is the Villa Rotonda. The building is modeled on the
Roman Pantheon, although it is much smaller in scale and has a temple-like porch on each of the four sides.
The plan is rigorously symmetrical around the central dome, and the main interior rooms all have the same
proportions with no regard for their actual function.
The High Renaissance artists wanted to go beyond nature, and the generation of artists who followed them
wanted to go even further. Mannerism, the style that resulted from the post-Renaissance generation, is
sometimes disturbing with its elongated proportions and sharp colors; other times, it looks extremely
polished and perhaps overly refined—a little chilly to most modern eyes.
The first phase of mannerism began in Florence around 1515. Many of the artists who painted in the style
admired Michelangelo’s work, and they emulated his complex poses and foreshortening. Jacopo da
Pontormo’s Deposition, from c. 1525, however, has an ethereal beauty that cannot be attributed only to
his admiration of Michelangelo. The bright pastel colors light up the dark chapel in which the altarpiece is
set. The entire painting seems intensely expressive, but in an otherworldly way. Each person seems lost in
his or her own feelings. Space is irrational: everything floats forward, and it is impossible to say what the
background figures may be standing on. Proportions are elongated and poses are exaggerated, as seen for
example, in the young man who crouches in the foreground.
Pontormo, Deposition, c. 1525
The later phase of mannerism is more polished and elegant, although it still has the stretched proportions
and exaggerated gestures seen earlier. The followers of Raphael, as well as many Florentine artists who
moved to Rome, developed a suave, sophisticated mannerist style that appealed to both religious and lay
patrons. After the Sack of Rome in 1527 (a devastating invasion of forces representing the Holy Roman
Empire), artists carried the mannerist style to other parts of Italy, France, and Europe. Benvenuto Cellini’s
Saltcellar of Francis I, made for the King of France, is a good example of the style. With figures representing
the earth (where pepper is found) and the sea (the origin of salt), it is an elaborately worked, highly
sophisticated object, far removed from its utilitarian function.
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