THIS COULD BE LIGHTENED UP A LITTLE

The portrait of Emperor Constantine the Great, 325-6, evidences a tremendous change since the days of Augustus of Prima Porta. Anatomy? Eye sockets, cleft chin. Biological? Little to no detail in forehead, cheeks, jaw line or neck. Proportions? Forehead is too low, nose short, eyes large, lips narrow, neck wide. Mass? Eyes are set into the sockets, nose and chin come outward. Naked or Nude? This is an abstract ideal based on pure shapes and design elements which neglects the details of the flesh. What was the artist’s intention? To represent Constantine’s character as overbearing, arrogant, and omniscient. The head here illustrated is one part of the original thirty foot tall seated sculpture. Only those parts carved in marble, such as the head, feet, hand, and knee cap and leg survive.  The composition must have been imposing as it towered above the population. While it is an example of art in the service of politics, the haunting eyes and massive scale communicated a narrative not of his disegno esterno, but of his supreme power and authority.