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Nicola Pisano (also called Niccolò Pisano, Nicola de Apulia or Nicola Pisanus; c. 1220/1225 – c. 1284[1]) was an Italian sculptor whose work is noted for its classical Roman sculptural style. Pisano is sometimes considered to be the founder of modern sculpture.[2]

Early life

His birth date or origins are uncertain. He was born in Apulia, as the son of "Petrus de Apulia", as stated in the archives of the Cathedral of Siena.[citation needed] Nicola Pisano was probably trained in the local workshops of the emperor Frederick II, and he attended his coronation.[3] Here he was trained to give to the traditional representations more movement and emotions, intertwining Classical and Christian traditions. His only remaining works from this period are two griffon heads with a soft chiaroscuro effect.

Around 1245 he moved to Tuscany to work at the Prato Castle. The lions on the portal of this castle are probably by his hand. "The head of a young girl" (now displayed in the Museo del Palazzo Venezia in Rome), cut in hardstone of Elba, is also ascribed to Nicola Pisano in the same period.

He moved to Lucca, working at façade of the Cathedral of Saint Martin, resulting in the relief Deposition from the Cross (on the north tympanum) and the lintel reliefs Nativity and Adoration of the Magi.

Pulpit (detail): the "Nativity" and Annunciation to the Shepherds

Pulpit of the Pisa baptistery

He moved to Pisa between 1245 and 1250, where his son Giovanni Pisano was born. Around 1255 he received a commission for the pulpit in the baptistery of Pisa. He finished this work in 1260 and signed with "Nicola Pisanus". He was aided by several assistants, among which were Arnolfo di Cambio and Lapo di Ricevuto.

In this pulpit, considered one of his masterworks, he succeeded in making a synthesis of the French Gothic style with the Classical style of ancient Rome, as he had seen on the sarcophagi of the Camposanto in Pisa, such as the scene Meleager hunting the Calydonian Boar on a sarcophagus brought as booty to Pisa by its navy. Vasari [4] relates that Nicola Pisano constantly studied these Roman remains and the Roman sculptures from Augustan times seem to have marked a deep impression on him. In the panel Representation the Madonna reminds us of the regal bearing of goddesses in late Roman sculpture, while the expressive face of St. Anne shows the ravages of age.

Apulia, as the son of "Petrus de Apulia", as stated in the archives of the Cathedral of Siena.[citation needed] Nicola Pisano was probably trained in the local workshops of the emperor Frederick II, and he attended his coronation.[3] Here he was trained to give to the traditional representations more movement and emotions, intertwining Classical and Christian traditions. His only remaining works from this period are two griffon heads with a soft chiaroscuro effect.

Around 1245 he moved to Tuscany to work at the Prato Castle. The lions on the portal of this castle are probably by his hand. "The head of a young girl" (now displayed in the Museo del Palazzo Venezia in Rome), cut in hardstone of Elba, is also ascribed to Nicola Pisano in the same period.

He moved to Lucca, working at façade of the Cathedral of Saint Martin, resulting in the relief Deposition from the Cross (on the north tympanum) and the lintel reliefs Nativity and Adoration of the Magi.

Pulpit (detail): the "Nativity" and Annunciation to the Shepherds

Pulpit of the Pisa baptistery

During 1264 he was asked to work on the Shrine of Saint Dominic in the Basilica of San Domenico in Bologna. He was certainly responsible for the design, but

During 1264 he was asked to work on the Shrine of Saint Dominic in the Basilica of San Domenico in Bologna. He was certainly responsible for the design, but his input was probably minimal. In 1265 he was already at work on the pulpit for the Siena Cathedral. The front side was done in his workshop, partially by Nicola Pisano himself but mostly by his assistant Lapo di Ricevuto. It would almost take 500 years to finish this shrine through the work of famous sculptors: Arnolfo di Cambio, fra Guglielmo Agnelli, Niccolò dell'Arca, the young Michelangelo, Girolamo Coltellini and Giovanni Batista Boudard. The expressive face of saint Dominic, so different from the more blander faces in the front panel "Saint Dominic resurrects Napoleone Orsini", is attributed to Arnolfo di Cambio.

Pulpit of the Siena Cathedral