Nicola Pisano (about 1220 — between 1278 and 1284) is the founder of the school of Italian sculpture, father of the sculptor Giovanni Pisano.
Pisano's date of birth is not known. Born in Puglia, in the archives of Siena Cathedral he is called the son of Pietro Puglia. Maybe he studied at the local workshops who worked for the court of Emperor Frederick II — distribution center of the classical tradition. Around 1245, he moved to Tuscany and worked in the Castello del Imperatore Prato. It is assumed that the depiction of lions on the portal of the castle, made by Niccolo Pisano. "Girl's head", which was exhibited in Rome at the Palazzo Venezia, also considered the work of Niccolo Pisano Tuscan period. Later, Pisano moved to Lucca. On the facade of the Cathedral of St. Martin, he made reliefs of "the Nativity" and "adoration of the Magi" (North tympanum). In Pisa sculptor settled between 1245 and 1250 years. Here was born his son Giovanni. In documents from this time appears as Niccolo Niccolo Pisano.
Around 1255 he received an order for a pulpit for the baptistery (it:Battistero di San Giovanni (Pisa)) in Pisa. Work was carried out with several assistants, among which were Arnolfo di Cambio and Lapo di Ricevuto. This is the first signed by the sculptor work is considered one of the masterpieces of Pisano in it managed to combine traditional themes and motifs of classical Roman style. According to Vasari, Pisano studied Roman sculpture of the time of Augustus, its strong influence is felt in the pulpit of Pisa baptistery. Hexagonal structure made of white, pink, red and dark green marble rests on the arches, carved in the form of a Gothic trefoil, supported by high columns. In the corners of the arches are figures of the four cardinal virtues (of which the most famous is the allegory of Power in the image of a naked Hercules), John the Baptist and the Archangel Michael. Probably the sculptor was inspired by the triumphal arches, which were seen in Rome during trips to Ostia. In the same way as leaning on the chair, the sculptures of the triumphal arch of Constantine crowned with capitals of the columns, and a balustrade decorated with reliefs. The reliefs depict scenes from the life of Christ: the Annunciation and the Nativity, adoration of the Magi, the Bringing into the temple, the Crucifixion, the last judgment. The reliefs of the Department, with the exception of the Crucifixion and the last judgment, reflect his familiarity with the images on Roman sarcophagi of the Camposanto. And Pisano used and technology of ancient masters. At the same time, the sculptor has reinterpreted the classic images in the Christian key, filling with new content. The composition is based on the Crucifixion Byzantine examples are known for articles of ivory, the last judgment rendered in the spirit of the French Gothic. The original reliefs of Carrara marble to give greater expression was painted.
Between 1260 and 1264 the years, it has completed the construction of the dome of the baptistery in Pisa, which was started by the architect, Diotisalvi. Pisano has increased the height of the baptistery, and crowned it with a system of two domes at the top of a hemispherical dome placed in the shape of a truncated cone. The facade of the baptistery is decorated by the sculptures of the son of Niccolo Giovanni in 1277-1284. In 1264, niccolò was commissioned by the ark for relics of Saint Dominic in Bologna Basilica of San Domenico. Pisano, of course, developed the draft of the ark, but the contribution of Niccolo in the embodiment of the idea of the material was probably minimal. In 1265 he was already working on the pulpit for Siena Cathedral. The octagonal pulpit (completed in November 1268 years) similar to Pisa, but larger and decorated more luxuriously. Her multi-figure reliefs on the theme of salvation and of judgment, will bear the stamp of the influence of French Gothic. Work on this pulpit Pisano was assisted by his son Giovanni di Lapo Ricevuto, Arnolfo di Cambio and other masters.