Unknown – Emperor Constantine

Medium: Oil on Canvas.

Size: 73x55cm

Conditions: Signed with initials on lower left: V. G. 1901. Overall excellent.

Constantine was a Roman emperor who reigned between 306-337AD. He is also known as Constantine the Great and was emperor of both the Eastern and Western Roman Empire from 324AD.

The painting here depicts Constantine raising a crucifix with his right hand while holding a palm leaf with his left hand. Palm leaves are a recurrent symbol in Christian art as they symbolise the Christian’s victory over death (hence why many saints and martyrs are depicted with this symbol). Yet, palm leaves in Roman times were originally used as a symbol of victory during triumphal processions (as it was an attribute of the goddess of fame). Thus, the palm leaf in the painting has a double meaning; a symbol of fame and recognition for the emperor and a symbol of Christian victory over paganism. In fact, pagan religion is here symbolised by the black Aquila, the Roman eagle that is being trampled on by the emperor. The emperor is here depicted with the Roman Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine (built-in 315AD to commemorate Constantine’s victory over Maxentius).






£1,100 (exc. VAT)

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