Pisano, Giovanni

Pisano, Giovanni the son and assistant of Niccola, was born at Pisa about 1240. He seems to have inherited much of his father's genius, but had an entirely different taste. Gothic architecture was his choice, and he was fond of exaggeration and fantastic action and expression in sculpture. As early as the making of the Siena pulpit he was a master in his own right, and went in 1268 to Naples to fulfill a commission from the Franciscans there; he also designed the Episcopal Palace. After the death of Niccola the Pisans were anxious to have Giovanni remain in his native city, where he executed important works. The church of S. Maria della Spina was the first example in Italy of the pointed architecture, and is a most pleasing one, In 1278 he was chosen to build the Pisan Campo Santo; it was the first and the most beautiful church of all Italy. It is too well known to be described in our limited space, but it seems that nothing could have been more fitting for its purpose than the plan which he adopted. Many of the sculptures here were also by his hand. The representation of Pisa was the first attempt at making large statues in Italy since the days of Constantine. It is a strange, and in many respects are unlovely work; and yet it has great intensity of expression in its principal figure, and displays the originality of Giovanni. He gained much reputation from this, and in 1286 went to Siena, where he was commissioned to build the facade of the cathedral. The people of Siena were very desirous that he should fix his home there; the magistrates made him a citizen, and exempted him from taxes for life; but he remained only three years, and went next to Perugia. In that city he made a monument to Urban IV, which no longer exists. From this time he devoted himself almost wholly to sculpture. At Arezzo he made the shrine of S. Donato for the cathedral, which cost (including jewels for the Madonna, enamels, and silver bass-reliefs) 30,000 florins. It was a superb work of art. His next work was done as a rival to "II Tedesco," a sculptor who had made a pulpit for the church of S. Giovanni at Pistoja, which was much praised. A new pulpit was also to be made for the church of S. Andrea, and there were those in Pistoja who had so admired Niccola Pisanio that they desired to have Giovanni do it; he excelled his rival in every way, and fully supported the reputation he had gained. Our artist now went to Florence. This was a prosperous time there, and Giovanni remained two years. In 1305 he began the monument of pope Benedict XI, and somewhat later one for St. Margaret in S. Dominica at Perugia. In 1312 he undertook the rebuilding of the cathedral of Prato, and, though he did not live to see it completed, his designs were carried out with precision. He died in 1320. He had many pupils; among them Andrea Pisano (q.v.). See Spooner, Bing. Hist. of the Fine Arts, s.v.; Vasari, Lives of the Painters and Sculptors; Cicognara, Storia della, Scultura, s.v.

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