This is another of the great sculptures made by Gian Lorenzo Bernini inside the St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, where you can see other masterpieces of his such as the figure of Saint Longinus or the imposing Baldachin.
Bernini's Constantine Statue
ThisEquestrian Monument of Constantinewas carved in marble between 1654 and 1668 and is dedicated to the Roman Emperor who made Christianity his official religion
Bernini evidently makes a sculpture with a round shape, however the work has a clear pictorial concept and the frontal point of view prevails, and especially to contemplate it from the portico of San Pedro. Somehow, the sculptor forces us to find the right point to observe his work, which is also perfectly framed by that arcade.
And despite this apparent static state, this is a fully baroque work. Something that is clearly manifested in the drapery of the room that can be seen behind the figure. A wind-swept-looking curtain that has four different functions.
First of all, it's a firm support for the horse's movement, which looks like it rears up. On the other hand, the presence of this simulated curtain raises the relationship between the monument and the size of the niche it occupies. In addition, we must not forget that this resource of large curtains is alwaysIt had been used both in painting and sculpture to represent royal figures, something that was also common in royal salons. And finally, it becomes a fantastic background that adds color, shadows and lights to the work and that repeats the pictorial character of this work.
Regarding the horse and that position with the two front legs raised, it is because it is intended to give a heroic tone to the figure, in addition to giving a lot of dynamism and drama to the representation. A type of figure that somehow Bernini established it as a canon for all equestrian figures that were made during the period of Baroque art, and even he used it again in an equestrian monument he made of the French king Louis XIV, which has not survived to this day, as is the case with the bust he made of the monarch.
However, in the case of the Monument to Constantine, the artist does not only see it as a representation of the first Christian emperor. In reality, Bernini seeks to use all artistic resources to dramatically portray a fragment of history, the precise moment in which the Cross in heaven is converted to faith. An allegory that, as usual with Bernini, is not explicit, but implicit.