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

Diam. 1.9 cm; 4.49 g
"Constantine, Dutiful and Fortunate August One"
REV: AOVENTVS [sic] AVGVSTI N ; in exergue, SMAN* (mint mark)
"The coming of our lord [Constantine]"

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

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

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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