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Pulpit in the Duomo of Siena.

Giovanni Pisano (c. 1250 – c. 1315) was an Italian sculptor, painter and architect. Son of the famous sculptor Nicola Pisano, he received his training in the workshop of his father.

In 1265-1268 he worked with his father at the pulpit in Siena Cathedral. The fountain Fontana Maggiore in Perugia was his next major work with his father. By the end of this project in 1278 his father may already have died. Another possibility is that Nicola Pisano died in 1284 when Giovanni took up residence in Siena. These first works were made in his father's style. It is difficult to tell who did exactly what. However the Madonna with Child can be attributed with certainty to Giovanni, showing a new style with a certain familiarity between Mother and Child.

His next work was in Pisa, sculpting the statues in the two rows of traceried gables at the exterior of the Baptistry (1277-1284). The vivacity of these statues is a new confirmation that he is leaving the serene style of his father behind.

He was appointed at the same time chief architect of Siena Cathedral between 1287 and 1296. This compelled him to travel often between these two cities. The elegant sculptures and the architectural design for the facade of the cathedral in Siena show his tendencies to blend Gothic art with reminders of Roman art.

Pulpit in the Cathedral of Pisa.

In 1296 he returned to Pisa to begin work on the San Giovanni church. In 1301 he continued his work on the pulpit of St. Andrew for the church of S. Andrea in Pistoia, which he had already started in 1297. The five reliefs on the pulpit are the Annunciation and Nativity; the Adoration, Dream of the Magi and Angel warning Joseph; the Massacre of the Innocents; the Crucifixion; and the Last Judgement.

His work between 1302 and 1310 at the new pulpit for the Cathedral of Pisa shows his distinct preference for movement in his characters, moving even further away his father's style. It shows nine scenes from the New Testament, carved in white marble with a chiaroscuro effect. It contains even a bold, naturalistic depiction of a naked Hercules. His figure Prudence in the pulpit may have been an inspiration for the Eve in the painting The Expulsion from the Garden of Eden by Masaccio. This pulpit with its dramatic scenes has become his masterwork. After the fire of 1595 it was packed away during the redecoration and was not rediscovered and re-erected until 1926. The church of San Nicola in Pisa was enlarged between 1297 and 1313 by the Augustinians, perhaps by the design of Giovanni Pisano. He was also responsible of the façade of San Paolo a Ripa d'Arno.

His last major work dates probably from 1313 when he made a monument in memory of Margaret of Brabant (who died in 1311) at the request of her husband emperor Henry VII.

His works shows a mixture of French Gothic and the classical style, and Henry Moore referred to him as "the first modern sculptor".

One of his pupils was Giovanni di Balduccio, who also became a famous sculptor, and the architect and sculptor Agostino da Siena. He also had an influence on the painter Pietro Lorenzetti. Giorgio Vasari included a biography of Pisano in his book Le vite dei più eccellenti pittori, scultori, e architetti

The asteroid 7313 Pisano was named to honour Nicola and Giovanni Pisano.


  • Carli, Enzo (1966). Giovanni Pisano. Milan. ISBN 88-7781-045-9.  
  • Mellini, G.L. (1969). Il pulpito di Giovanni Pisano a Pistoia. Florence.  

External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

GIOVANNI PISANO (c. 1250-1330), Italian architect and sculptor, was the son of Niccola Pisano. Together with Arnolfo del Cambio and other pupils, he developed and extended into other parts of Italy the renaissance of sculpture which in the main was due to his father's talent. After he had spent the first part of his life at home as a pupil and fellow worker of Part of the Tomb of Benedict XI., by Giovanni Pisano.

Niccola, the younger Pisano was summoned between 1270 and 1274 to Naples, where he worked for Charles of Anjou on the Castel Nuovo. One of his earliest independent performances was the Campo Santo at Pisa, finished about 1283; along with this he executed various pieces of sculpture over the main door and inside the cloister. The richest in design of all his works (finished about 1286) is in the cathedral of Arezzo - a magnificent marble high altar and reredos, adorned both in front and at the back with countless figures and reliefs - mostly illustrative of the lives of St Gregory and St Donato, whose bones are enshrined there. The actual execution of this was probably wholly the work of his pupils. In 1290 Giovanni was appointed architect or "capo maestro" of the new cathedral at Siena, in which office he succeeded Lorenzo Maitani, who went to Orvieto to build the less ambitious but equally magnificent duomo which had just been founded there. The design of the gorgeous facade of that duomo has been attributed to him, but it is more probable that he only carried out Maitani's design. At Perugia, Giovanni built the 1 The date on the door, 1330, refers to the original wax model.

church of S. Domenico in 1304, but little of the original structure remains. The north transept, however, still contains his beautiful tomb of Benedict XI., with a sleeping figure of the pope, guarded by angels who draw aside the curtain. One of Giovanni's most beautiful architectural works was the little chapel of S. Maria della Spina (now rebuilt, "restored"), on the banks of the Arno in Pisa; the actual execution of this chapel, and the sculpture with which it is adorned, was mostly the work of his pupils. 2 The influence of his father Niccola is seen strongly in all Giovanni's works, but especially in the pulpit of S. Andrea-at Pistoia, executed about 1300. Another pulpit, designed on the same lines, was made by him for the nave of Pisa Cathedral between 1310 and 1311. The last part of Giovanni's life was spent at Prato, near Florence, where with many pupils he worked at the cathedral till his death about 1330.

See M. Sauerlandt, Ober die Bildwerke des Giovanni Pisano, &c. (1904); A. Brach, Nicola and Giovanni Pisano and die Plastik des XIV. Jahrhunderts in Siena (1904).

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