About This Artwork

Roman, minted in Antioch

Solidus (Coin) Portraying Emperor Constantine I, late A.D. 324/early A.D. 325, issued by Constantine I

Gold
Diam. 1.9 cm; 4.48 g
Obverse: CONSTANTINVS P F AVG (Pius et Felix - dutiful and happy)
Reverse: AOVENTVS [sic] AVGVSTI N ; in exergue, SMAN* (mint mark signifying Sacra Moneta Antioch)
"The coming of our Augustus"

Gift of Martin A. Ryerson, 1922.4903

In A.D. 313, Constantine I (c. 272–337, r. 306–37) and his coruler Licinius (c. 265–325, r. 308–24) jointly issued the Edict of Milan, which aimed to end religious intolerance by granting legal rights to Christians and ordering the return of their confiscated property. This solidus, bearing a large profile portrait of Constantine wearing a laurel crown, was issued during the period in which Constantine both defeated Licinius to become sole emperor and sponsored the First Council of Nicaea (a.d. 325), whose goal was to establish the nature of Jesus and his relation to God the Father. Baptized on his deathbed, Constantine is honored as the first Christian emperor, and his reign marks the beginning of the Christianization of the empire. He transferred the capital of the Roman Empire to ancient Byzantium, which was renamed Constantinople in his honor.

— Entry, Essential Guide, 2013, p. 76.


Constantine I (r. A.D. 306–37) reinstituted sole control over the empire; moved the imperial capital to the new city named after him, Constantinople; and not only brought an end to the persecution of Christians, but also built monumental churches in Rome, Constantinople, and Jerusalem.

—Permanent collection label



This work appears in the online catalogue Roman Art at the Art Institute of Chicago, featuring art historical essays and conservation reports on artworks from the ancient Roman world in the Art Institute’s collection. Many of the objects are published here for the first time. The entries include new high-resolution photography, stunning 360-degree views of the works, and in-depth technical imaging and analysis. The volume is free to the public. The project received generous funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The catalogue was built using the OSCI Toolkit, an open-source digital authoring and publishing platform. Find the Art Institute's toolkit customizations and additions on github under the OSCI-Toolkit, OSCI-Toolkit-Frontend, and ChicagoCodeX repositories.


This work appears in the online catalogue Roman Art at the Art Institute of Chicago, featuring art historical essays and conservation reports on artworks from the ancient Roman world in the Art Institute’s collection. Many of the objects are published here for the first time. The entries include new high-resolution photography, stunning 360-degree views of the works, and in-depth technical imaging and analysis. The volume is free to the public. The project received generous funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The catalogue was built using the OSCI Toolkit, an open-source digital authoring and publishing platform. Find the Art Institute's toolkit customizations and additions on github under the OSCI-Toolkit, OSCI-Toolkit-Frontend, and ChicagoCodeX repositories.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

The Art Institute of Chicago, Ancient Art Galleries, Gallery 155, April 20, 1994 - February 6, 2012.

"Coin Production in the Ancient Mediterranean World", Gallery # 155, 1994-1997

Publication History

Elizabeth Hahn Benge, "From Aegina to Andronicus: A Survey of Coinage at the Art Institute of Chicago," in Historia Mundi n. 5 (January 2016), pp. 213, 214 (fig. 15).

Louise Berge and Karen Alexander. "Ancient Gold Work and Jewelry from Chicago Collections." The Ancient World, (1985) Vol. 11, nos. 1 and 2, p. 22.

Theresa Gross-Diaz. Museum Studies 20, (1994), 1, p. 77 (ill.), cat. 57.

Karen B. Alexander. "From Plaster to Stone: Ancient Art at the Art Institute of Chicago." in Recasting the Past: Collecting and Presenting Antiquities at the Art Institute of Chicago, by Karen Manchester, (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2012), p. 29.

Karen Manchester. Recasting the Past: Collecting and Presenting Antiquities at the Art Institute of Chicago, (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2012), pp. 104-106 (cat. 26), 114.




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