Nicola and Giovanni Pisano

Pisano, Nicola

Nicola Pisano (nēkô´lä pēzä´nō), b. c.1220, d. between 1278 and 1287, major Italian sculptor, believed to have come from Apulia. He founded a new school of sculpture in Italy. His first great work was the marble pulpit for the baptistery in Pisa, completed in 1259. Its form was hexagonal, with panels in high relief consisting of scenes from the life of Jesus. The pulpit is supported by elaborate columns, three of which rest on carved lions. The shape of the pulpit and the use of antique prototypes are thought to derive from an early training in S Italy. Imbued with the classic spirit, Nicola concentrated on the human figure, creating a style of monumental dignity. From 1265 to 1268 he worked on a larger pulpit for the cathedral at Siena. Assisted by his son Giovanni and other pupils, he allowed them a greater part of the execution. The narrative scenes show more freedom of treatment and a tendency toward the more linear French Gothic form. His last great project was the fountain at Perugia. With Giovanni he designed 24 statues and twice as many reliefs, all finished (1278) within one year. Nicola Pisano was the earliest noted Italian sculptor.

See study by G. H. Crichton and E. R. Crichton (1938).

His son, Giovanni Pisano, b. c.1250, d. after 1314, was a sculptor and architect. With his dramatic use of line and his taste for elaborate decoration, he is thought to have had a firsthand acquaintance with the Gothic art of France. Besides assisting his father in work on the pulpit for the cathedral at Siena and on the fountain at Perugia, he independently executed a pulpit (1298–1301) for Sant' Andrea, Pistoia, and a pulpit (1302–10) for the cathedral at Pisa. The last was reconstructed in 1926, though several fragments are dispersed (Metropolitan Mus.; Berlin). He carved several free-standing statues of the Madonna, which are in Pisa, Padua, and Prato. In 1312 he made the tomb of Margaret, wife of Emperor Henry VII. Fragments of it are still in Genoa. Giovanni also designed an ornate facade for the cathedral at Siena.

See study by M. Ayrton (1969).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Nicola Pisano and the Revival of Sculpture in Italy
G. H. & E. R. Crichton.
Cambridge [Eng.] The University press, 1938
The Renaissance Artist at Work: From Pisano to Titian
Bruce Cole.
Westview Press, 1983
FREE! A History of Painting in Italy, Umbria, Florence and Siena, from the Second to the Sixteenth Century
J. A. Crowe; G. B. Cavalcaselle.
J. Murray, vol.1, 1903
Librarian’s tip: Chap. IV "Niccola and Giovanni Pisano"
A Short History of Italian Art
Adolfo Venturi; Edward Hutton.
Macmillan, 1926
Librarian’s tip: Chap. III "Italian Sculpture and Architecture (Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries)"
FREE! History of Mediaeval Art
Franz Von Reber; Joseph Thacher Clarke.
Harper & Brothers, 1887
Librarian’s tip: "Italy" begins on p. 632
FREE! A Short History of Italy: (476-1900)
Henry Dwight Sedgwick.
Houghton Mifflin and Company, 1905
Librarian’s tip: Chap. XVIII "The Transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance"
FREE! Roman and Medieval Art
W. H. Goodyear.
Grosset & Dunlap, 1897
Librarian’s tip: Chap. XIV "Italian Gothic Sculpture"
Studies of Italian Renaissance Sculpture
W. R. Valentiner.
Phaidon Press, 1950
Librarian’s tip: "Late Gothic Sculpture in the North and in Italy" begins on p. 22
FREE! Medieval Art: From the Peace of the Church to the Eve of the Renaissance, 312-1350
W. R. Lethaby.
Duckworth, 1904
Librarian’s tip: Chap. XII "Gothic Art in Italy"
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists
Ian Chilvers.
Oxford University Press, 1996 (2nd edition)
Librarian’s tip: "Pisano, Nicola (1278/84) and Giovanni" begins on p. 408
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