Master Collection activity 20: Arch of Constantine
Look at sculptures on the Arch of Constantine in close-up detail.
Discuss what you think the Roman Emperor Constantine was trying to do by re-using sculptures featuring the emperors Hadrian and Trajan.
Compare how they were drawn by world famous artist J M W Turner and the unknown artist of the Folkestone Museum drawing.
Create a Roman Triumphal Arch inspired by what you’ve seen.
KS1-2 History (Romans, Roman soldiers and how they fought)
KS1-2 Art (Classical sculpture)
KS1-2 Art (Roman art and sculpture, create a triumphal arch)
KS1-2 History (Romans)
Look at the Panorama of Rome in Learn with Objects Master Collection 9: Panorama of Rome. Ask pupils to find the Colosseum [on the far left of the panorama] and a Roman arch nearby. This is the Arch of Constantine.
Find images of the Arch of Constantine at Learn with Objects Master Collection 20: scenes from the Roman Arch of Constantine and ask pupils to look closely…
- How many sculptures can you see?
- What are the differences between them?
Explore the messages that Constantine was aiming to convey by re-using sculptures from the time of, and featuring, the emperors Hadrian and Trajan. For details of which sculptures come from which eras see
Travel sketches and sketchbooks
The sculptures on the Arch of Constantine, as well as other sculptures and monuments in Rome, were drawn by visiting artists as well as locals. Many professional and amateur artists travelled with a sketchbook.
Turner’s sketchbook from a visit to Italy in 1819 includes drawings of the Arch of Constantine sculptures:
or full entry
Ask pupils to compare Turner’s sketches of the Arch of Constantine to the Master Collection ones.
- What differences can you see?
Looking at photographs of the Arch of Constantine.
- What has Turner included that the Master Collection artist omitted?
Sources of inspiration
The artist Raphael (1483-1520) was inspired by the Trajanic battle relief from the Arch of Constantine for his Expulsion of Heliodorus, a wall painting in the Vatican:
Design a Roman triumphal arch
The Arch of Constantine is made of reused pieces of Roman sculpture from three centuries, so is essentially an imperial collage with a message! Ask pupils to design their own 3D triumphal arch from recycled materials or modelling clay based on online research.
Learn with Objects links
Use Learn with Objects Master Collection 20: scenes from the Roman Arch of Constantine and Master Collection 9: Panorama of Rome.