Video and Discussion:Michelangelo and the Birth of Mannerism in Architecture at San Lorenzo

What qualities does this architecture make it Italian “mannerist” in style?


  1. The Mannerist style is best discribed as having a twisted approach to traditional art and architecture. Michelangelo's San Lorenzo is very unique making it very intriguing. You will notice that there are two columns that are coupled together and actually have a structural function. The two tone coloring give it a very fancy feeling. The stairs are irrational and make no sense. For example, there are no banisters and and the lip on the steps make it difficult for someone to walk up with ease.

    1. I second your definition of Mannerism! I also want to add some information I got from the video that I found to be very interesting. In the video Mannerism is defined or thought to be a knowing of all the Classic rules and intentionally breaking them in a seemingly unconventional way, which is in fact conventional. It is so entirely complex, and as for the elements/qualities of Mannerism present, I also agree that there is a fancy very ornamental style to Michelangelo's San Lorenzo. It incorporates intricate usage of double pillastered columns that are embedded in to the wall for seemingly ornamental and aesthetic purposes, but really it did serve a purpose int he overall structure of the building. Another item to notice is the weird use of volutes in awkward places, these are probably purely for ornamentation purposes, but there again is the idea that Mannerism takes Classical elements and use them in really new, weird and inventive ways!

  2. The double columns that are into the wall instead of outward, two columns right next to each other, is something you don't see, it's not classical, but it is referencing classical ism in an innovative way. And also how the columns are behind the triangular shape eavesdrop, is also classical, but innovative of Michelangelo making it mannerist. The triangular shape windows refer to a classic spot for a sculpture but there is nothing, also the stairs are not traditional there are elongated flowing outward instead of short stepped, as in classic architecture.

  3. On the architecture of this building there are multiple examples of the mannerist style architecture. The first thing that may stand out to anyone who walks into this building with out knowledge of anything would be the lack of figures or frescos on small apses that look like windows. Secondly you have the stairs that are completely unconventional from the design of the steps to the decorative items on the sides that add no architectural benefit. Lastly the main doorway has a couple of items that need to be pointed out like the use of double columns and a decorative cornice on the doorway that seems to be coming down at the center but were designed to be this way. All of the Architectural anomalies that Michelangelo does to the Laurenthian Library demonstrate the use of the style later to be considered mannerism.

  4. Laurie Ericson October 11, 2012 10:07 PM

    Everything covered in Professor Mencher's video regarding, "What qualities does this architecture make it Italian 'mannerist' in style" have been well listed in the above posts except for the pediment over the center door which looks broken and "jolts out". The only other thing I might add to this forum is the introduction to the video and a sentence from Stokstad's chapter on "Art of the High Renaissanc and Reformation".
    Mannerism started right after Michelangelo's groundbreaking painting, "The Last Supper" done on the back wall of the Sisteen Chapel in 1534.He did the architectural art at San Lorenzo in 1524. The text says that Mannerism is a word deriving from the Italian word, "maniera", meaning "style".

  5. All of these comments answer the question very well. I just wanted to comment that although by todays standards it is very highly ornamented, it seems like compared to a lot of what we have been looking at, Rafael's library, or the Cistine chapel, where every surface is painted and ornamented, this seems very simple. I don't think thats necessarily a part of Mannerism, but I thought it was an interesting point.

    Aurora Morris

  6. The first thing I thought when I studied this, was that it was sort of like having bizzaro superman appear and do things backwards and yet he's still embodies the basic traits of superman. Probably not the best analogy but as you look at the way Michelangelo uses known styles, it makes you wonder what his thought process was. The evidence of Mannerism has been stated for the most part in the previous posts, such as the spaces for sculptures where there are no sculptures, or the columns that don't quite infuse themselves into the walls, but I'm curious as to why he did this. Again, it's the thought process that fascinates me. We make these big deals out of slight changes in their works, but in actuality maybe he just woke up one day and said eff it, I'm going to try this. Unlikely, but you never know.

    A. Martinez

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