Late Gothic (Antwerp) Mannerism: its Origins, Nature and Decline (a Review of the Literature)
Keywords:Mannerism, Antwerp, Max Friedländer, Gothic Mannerism, Renaissance
This essay does not strive to give a comprehensive review of literature on Antwerp Mannerism, but rather to summarize the focal points of discussions and to outline key roadmaps for further studies.
The majority of scholars consider Antwerp Mannerism as a late Gothic style influenced by Italian Quattrocento. Its genesis, however, remains a subject of hot debates. If Hoogewerff argued on the German origins, Vandenbroeck attributed it to an inflow of provincial artists. Whatever were the origins, Expressionist shapes were not inherent to the early Netherlandish painting and the attempt to fuse them with ‘realism’ of the Flemish Primitives seemed a revolutionary breakthrough following the pictorial crisis of the 1480s.
Despite a rift in chronology, Antwerp Mannerism has irrefutable similarities with the later Italian Mannerism. Thus exploration of the intellectual and religious context of early sixteenth-century Antwerp art similar to Max Dvořák’s approach can be another direction for further research of the Italian and Spanish Mannerism.
The subject matter of Antwerp Mannerist art, too, remains largely unexplored. Dan Ewing’s breakthrough essay showed that the changes in iconography (such as reinvention of the well-known subject) could mark shifts in identity. By no means they are merely ‘anecdotic’ as Paul Philippot stated. What subjects were popular beyond the Adoration of the Magi and why? Were there any secular subjects? How did the iconography of Antwerp art reflect the intersection of different Netherlandish schools of art? How did later artists incorporate the pictorial inventions of the Antwerp Mannerists? Finding an answer to these and similar questions can provide a rich context for further studies on this ‘contrived’ but unique style.