Mannerism in Europe

The Mannerist style developed in the courts of the Italian elite. It built on Renaissance naturalism but distorts and deceives to delight its highly educated audience.

Francis had great reason to emphasize his wealth and magnanimity. For years he had been at war with the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, a gamble that continued to go poorly for the French king.

The Gallery of Francis I at Fontainebleau ...

Sofonisba Anguissola, Self-Portrait at the Easel, 1556, oil on canvas, 66 x 57 cm (Łańcut Castle)
Female painters were rare in sixteenth-century Italy. In self-portraits, Sofonisba made sure to appear virtuous.

Sofonisba Anguissola

El Greco, View of Toledo, date unknown, oil on canvas, 47-3/4 x 42-3/4" / 121.3 x 108.6 cm (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Is that a Van Gogh? Centuries ahead of its time, this radical cityscape captures external and internal conflict.

El Greco, View of Toledo

Pieter Aertsen, A Meat Stall with the Holy Family Giving Alms, 1551, oil on panel 45 1/2 x 66 1/2" / 115.6 x 168.9 cm (North Carolina Museum of Art). Other versions include one in the University Art Collections, Uppsala University, Sweden.
This composition is bold and original. Front and center, a meat stall steals the spotlight from a religious scene.

Pieter Aertsen, Meat Stall