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The Visual Politics of Constantinian Imagery in the Early Modern Period

Silvia Tita, Research Associate, 2015–2016

Cristoforo di Geremia, Constantine and the Church [reverse], c. 1468c. 1468

Cristoforo di Geremia, Constantine and the Church [reverse], c. 1468, bronze, Samuel H. Kress Collection, 1957.14.805.b

This project examines the proliferation of Constantinian imagery in the early modern period, especially one (in)famous episode known as the Donation of Constantine. Concocted in the eighth century but attributed retrospectively to Constantine’s time, the Donation of Constantine (which effectively placed the Western part of the Roman empire under the authority of the pope) stirred a heated debate in the early modern period in both Protestant and Catholic milieus. One of the main goals of this study is to establish a dialectical relationship between the textual sources dealing with the controversial Donation and the visual material related to the  topic. Although the subject appealed primarily to the papacy, Constantine’s legacy within the larger European context substantively contributed to the debate.