Mannerism, the artistic style which gained popularity in the period following the High Renaissance, takes as its ideals the work of Raphael and Michelangelo Buonarroti. It is considered to be a period of technical accomplishment but also of formulaic, theatrical and overly stylized work.
Mannerist Art is characterized by a complex composition, with muscular and elongated figures in complex poses. Discussing Michelangelo in his journal, Eugène Delacroix gives as good a description as any of the limitations of Mannerism:
"All that he has painted is muscles and poses, in which even science, contrary to general opinion, is by no means the dominant factor... He did not know a single one of the feelings of man, not one of his passions. When he was making an arm or a leg, it seems as if he were thinking only of that arm or leg and was not giving the slightest consideration to the way it relates with the action of the figure to which it belongs, much less to the action of the picture as a whole... Therein lies his great merit; he brings a sense of the grand and the terrible into even an isolated limb."
In addition to Michelangelo, leading Mannerist artists included Rosso Fiorentino, Pontormo, and Parmigianino.
By the late 16th century, there were several anti-Mannerist attempts to reinvigorate art with greater naturalism and emotionalism. These developed into the Baroque style, which dominated the 17th century.