Mannerism is the name used for the art which developed between the first and the last decade of the XVI century in a period characterised by historical crisis (which ended in the 1527 sack of Rome) and religious crisis (which ended with the Counter-Reformation). The art of this period abandons the classical criteria of symmetry, balance and proportion and favours unusual and eccentric designs, exasperating some elements. This can be seen in the works of great artists such as Raphael and Michelangelo. In this period painted figures are slender and tend to be stylised and in contorted positions. Colour is combined in unusual ways and paintings are complex and crowded. The main artists of Mannerism are Giulio Romano, Rosso Fiorentino, Pontormo, Parmigianino, Beccafumi, whereas late mannerist artists are the brothers Taddeo and Federico Zuccari.
Important sculptors of this period are Baccio Bandinelli, Bartolomeo Ammannati, Benvenuto Cellini and Giambologna.