Portrait of Constantine the Great
Date early 4th Century CE
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.