In circa 1520, Italian artists began to absorb and imitate the works of Renaissance artists, in order to develop what became known as the mannerist style. Domenico Beccafumi, Rosso Fiorentino, Jacopo Pontormo and Parmigianino were some of the key mannerist painters. Despite sharing many basic artistic tendencies, such as portraying over-elongated proportions and strong contrast, they developed their own individual approaches to mannerism. The elongated limbs of Parmigianino’s (1503-40) "Madonna with the long neck" (1534-35) were represented gracefully and delicately in a strong but harmonious palate. In contrast, Rosso Fiorentino (1494-1540) used exaggerated colours and developed a visual language full of highly dramatic gestures and agitated movements. Even more spectacular are Giulio Romano’s (1499-1546) frescoes in the Palazzo del Te in Mantua (c. 1526-34): Whilst the "Sala di Psiche" contains a mythologically transfigured realm of the senses, in the "Sala dei Giganti", the visitor is shown how the dramatically dynamic, voluminous bodies of the giants are buried under collapsing rubble.
Giambologna’s (1529-1608) sculptures were executed in the archetypal Italian mannerist style: the figures, escalated upwards, as "figura serpentinata," encourage the observer to see beyond the plasticity of the sculpture and marvel at the artist’s ability from all sides. Italian mannerism remained popular until circa 1600, when baroque became the new dominant artistic style.