Art Abstracts: the Seated Sculpture of Helena

Looking for the answer to this week’s Art Abstracts? It’s the Seated Sculpture of Helena visiting us from the Capitoline Museums, Rome!


IMAGE CREDIT | Seated Sculpture of Helena, 134-329 A.D. (body, Antonine era; head, reworked in Constantinian era) | Greek marble | On loan from the Musei Capitolini, Roma

Helena devoted her life to spiritual practices and pilgrimages and was encouraged by her son, Emperor Constantine I, who hoped to unify the empire under one credo by giving religious sanction to Christians in 313 A.D. Partially reclining on a high-back chair, Helena’s Antonine-era body is fashioned after Greek honorary sculptures of the goddess Hygeia. Her portrait sculpted roughly two centuries later, demonstrates strong facial features, an irregular nose, and subtle simplified braids that speak to the stylized, abstract tendencies of late Roman sculpture. her enlarged eyes convey an almost otherworldly expression typical of late Roman portraiture and bring to mind representations of Constantine.

Learn more about Helena in this installment of our video series, “Journey Through the Hall of Emperors”:



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