PISANO, Nicola
(active 1258-1278)

Annunciation, Birth of Jesus and Adoration of the Shepherds

1260
Marble
Baptistry, Pisa

The panels of the pulpit give a continuous narrative with the Annunciation, Nativity and Annunciation to the Shepherds; the Adoration of the Magi depicted as the Three Ages of Man; the Presentation in the Temple; the Crucifixion; and the Last Judgment. Traces of pigment suggest that paint once increased the polychromy of the coloured marble, while the addition of black paste to some drill holes intensified the light and dark contrast of the carving.

This panel represents three scenes: the Annunciation, the Birth of Jesus (Nativity) and the Adoration of the Shepherds.

The massive Madonna is derived from the Phaedra on a sarcophagus in the Camposanto, Pisa. Her weighty form and Graeco-Roman head-dress as well as her heavy lips and chin are repeated throughout the pulpit with an Aristotelean unity of character. In both the Nativity, where she reclines like an Etruscan matron, and the `Adoration', the figure is not copied but rather studied and then mixed creatively with borrowings from other sources.