The nature and significance of mannerism has been a topic of lively debate for centuries. This insightful book by James V. Mirollo provides not only an introduction to mannerism as a theoretical concept and a historical stylistic mode but also a cogent discussion of some of the literary and artistic manifestations of mannerism in the Renaissance.
Mirollo begins by offering an updated account of the controversy over mannerism that began in the mid-sixteenth century and is only now approaching a consensus. Both the survey and the bibliography that accompanies it are unusual in their range and interdisciplinary coverage, for they include selected literary, art, and music theory and criticism from Vasari to the present. The following chapters take up the aesthetic sensibility of mannerism as it revealed in Cellini’s Vita and in Italian and European Petrarchism, literary and visual. The essays on Petrarchism focus on the diverse ways in which painters and poets—Italian, French, Spanish, and English—treated the lyric conventions of the veiled face and the gloved hand. The postlude offers a brief exposition of the contrast between mannerism and both Renaissance and baroque styles, as evident in a group of English related pastoral poems.