Mannerism in Tuscany really took off in the 16th century as an experimental off-shoot of the already flourishing Renaissance art. For a long time, paintings that we now consider to be Mannerist were not classified, and the lack of definition for this style at the time meant that they were often seen in a negative light, regarded as excessively anti-classicist. Today, the Mannerist movement has been entirely re-evaluated and is interpreted and treated by critics as a separate and distinct category of art.
Mannerist art came out of the culture of Humanism, whose fundamental principles were the search for beauty, aesthetic perception and good taste. Andrea del Sarto was the first real Mannerist painter, and he went on to train Vasari, Pontormo and Rosso Fiorentino in his workshop. All these artists were important in the Mannerist movement as it developed and all of them were well-versed not only in painting but also in architecture, sculpture and the art of decoration.
Vasari’s best work was his design for the Uffizi and his plans to renovate Palazzo della Signoria. He was also an accomplished painter (see his frescoes in the Salone dei Cinquecento inside Palazzo Vecchio) and a cultural academic (he founded the Accademia delle Artiedel Disegno). A favourite of the Medici, Pontormo was one of the other most important Florentine Mannerist painters. His strongest and most important artwork is considered to be the Deposition in Capponi Chapel in the Church of Santa Felicita.
Another important Florentine Mannerist painter who had close ties with Pontormo was Rosso Fiorentino, a ‘revolutionary’ artist for the content and concepts behind his paintings – at least those that defined his Mannerist phase. Many of his most important works can be admired in Florence, but what is considered to be his masterpiece, a Deposition, hangs in the Pinacoteca in Volterra. Some additional Florentine artists, architects, painters and sculptors who also took up the Mannerist style include Buontalenti, Ammannati, Salviati, Bronzino,Giambologna and Benvenuto Cellini.