Portrait of Constantine the Great

Portrait of Constantine the Great

Date early 4th Century CE

Movement Roman

Medium Marble

Height 8′

Housed at Museo del Palazzo dei Conservatori, Rome

 

This massive, sitting portrait (the head alone measures 8’) was placed in the apse of the Basilica of Constantine. Constantine, perhaps to hearken back to more powerful emperors, reemploys an earlier style used by August and Trajan—note the absence of a beard, the smooth facial planes, and full cap of hair. Constantine’s gaze looks beyond the viewer and into another realm, perhaps to emphasize his Christian spirituality.