The Colossus of Constantine

A lot can happen to a work of art in 1,700 years. Consider the Colossus of Constantine: what remains of it today are a colossal marble head, standing over seven feet tall; a right arm and, oddly, two right hands; a left kneecap and shin; and both feet, complete with callused toes and sandals, a soldier's feet. Such a curious collection of fragments raises many of the kinds of questions art historians must ask themselves. What did this look like originally, before it fell prey to Time the destroyer and other varieties of vandals? Why did it look that way? And what was it meant . . .

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Mary Elizabeth Podles is the retired curator of Renaissance and Baroque art at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. She and her husband Leon, a Touchstone senior editor, have six children and live in Baltimore, Maryland.


more on art from the online archives

30.3—May/June 2017

St. Luke the Evangelist

by Mary Elizabeth Podles

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