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The Arch of Constantine

I’m not exactly sure if this one truly counts as a “then and now” sort of journey. The Arch of Constantine was dedicated in the year 315. The wonderfully detailed vintage engraving I found today dates back to 1828. But, I don’t know why anyone would want to use the old book illustration I found, when a photographer has placed his beautiful photographs of the structure in the public domain. So, maybe today, we just enjoy the awesomeness of the structure, marvel on how it has survived for 17 centuries and wonder how they build such a structure without benefit of modern tools.

Let’s start out with the vintage engraving and illustration of the Arch of Constantine I found in a magazine published in 1828…

History of The Arch of Constantine

Arch of Constantine

The Romans built arches as monuments of triumph and in honor of her generals. The Arch of Constantine is considered by many to be the most noble of all the Arches of Rome. It was erected to honor Constantine by the senate and Roman people, after his victory over Maxentius. The Arch also commemorates the victories of Trajan. The entire structure is covered in marble, either solid marble or brick faced with marble.

The Arch of Constantine is 21 meters high and 25.9 meters wide. The depth of the arch is 7.4 meters. One historic fun fact – the arch served as the marathon finish line for the 1960 Summer Olympics. The race was won by Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia, who was famous for running in his bare feet and who also won the same event in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

On Enjoying Art & A Beautiful Photograph

I refuse to jump into the discussion of the various styles, whether or not part of the arch was re-used from another monument and all that other fussy stuff. There’s plenty of other websites that offer that sort of information. Here on Art Filled Days, I would rather simply enjoy the beauty and grandeur of the structure than expound on all of the discourse by art scholars.

Speaking of the beauty and grandeur of the Arch of Constantine, here’s that beautiful photograph I promised you…

We have Karel Jakubec to thank for this beautiful photograph. He lives in Prague and shares his photography hobby with the world through Wikipedia.

Painting of The Arch of Constantine

But, this is Art Filled Days and as lovely as Jakubec’s photograph of the Arch of Constantine is and how well it shows us how this beautiful Roman landmark remains today, this post would somehow be incomplete with the addition of a bit more art. This time, it’s from 1747 and is the work of an Italian artist.


Giovanni Paolo Pannini is believed to be the first painter who specialized in ruins. This painting is but one of many he completed of the historic Roman sites treasured the world over. Pannini blended real and imaginary views to create nostalgic depictions of Rome’s antiquities. He was known for placing buildings and archaeological remains together when in real life they were not near each other. This type of landscape painting is referred to as a capriccio. (Ironically, in this painting, we see the Colloseum being near the Arch of Constantine. In real life they are approximately 180 meters from each other.) While Pannini didn’t invent the capriccio genre, he is the artist most well-known for employing it. He lived from 1691 until 1765.

arch of constantine by giovanni paolo pannini


I think I’ll quit for now. Lots of cool new stuff I learned today sharing this with you. Perhaps I’ve also found a new artist I should add to The Famous Artists too.

Which of the three representations of The Arch of Constantine is your favorite?

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