Colossal bronze statue of Constantine: head

Statua colossale bronzea di Costantino: testa
4th century AD
Material and technique: 
cm 177
Formerly at the Lateran. Sixtus IV donation (1471)
inv. MC1072

The fate that befell almost all ancient bronzes, melted down in the Middle Ages due to a shortage of raw materials, has spared one group of sculptures kept on the Capitoline since 1471. These are the bronzes donated to the Roman People by Pope Sixtus IV, who ordered their transfer from the Lateran Patriarchate, marking with this act the birth of the Capitoline Museums. Among them are the precious fragments of the head, hand and globe of a colossal statue of Constantine the Great (306-337 AD), the first Christian emperor.
The gilded bronze head (mounted on a modern neck) is surprising both for its size and for the quality of execution with a refined treatment of the metal surfaces.  The face, worked in broad planes, has marked features. The large eyes weighed down by bags, the expression lines and the drooping cheeks indicate that we are dealing with an image of the emperor in his mature years. The series of holes visible in the hair, treated as a compact cap, is explained by the original presence of a crown, which we know from a medieval source to have been made of gold and adorned with precious gems.

The hall

Museo del Palazzo dei Conservatori - Esedra di Marco Aurelio

The new grand glass hall built inside what was called the "Giardino Romano" in Palazzo dei Conservatori today contains the equestrian statue of Marc Aurelius together with some of the major Capitoline bronzes, the Hercules in gilded bronze from the Foro Boario and the remains of the bronze colossus of Constantine. 

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