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Western art

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Constantius appoints Constantine as his successor



Sir Peter Paul Rubens


28 Jun 1577 - 30 May 1640




Media category


Materials used

oil on panel


37.6 x 30.2 x 0.5 cm panel; 61.5 x 53.4 x 9.5 cm frame

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Gift of James Fairfax AC 1993

Accession number


Artist information

Sir Peter Paul Rubens

Works in the collection


Shown in 10 exhibitions

Exhibition history


French royal tapestry works of Saint-Marcel, post 1622, France, With the rest of the set: painted for the French royal tapestry works of Saint-Marcel, 1622; listed at the Saint-Marcel works in 1627; remained there under the directorship of Marc de Comans (d. 1644) and subsequently of Hippolyte de Comans (who became director in 1651); Henri de Valois (1603-1673) or Adrien de Valois (1607-1692)

Philippe, duc d'Orléans, pre 1723, France

Philippe-Joseph ('Egalité'), duc d'Orléans, pre 1792, France, by descent, sold to Thomas Moore Slade 1792

Thomas Moore Slade, 1792, England, Purchased by Thomas Moore Slade in association with the 7th Baron Kinnaird (1754-1805), W. Morland and Thomas Hammersley.

Thomas Hammersley, 1792-1812?, London/England, Thomas Hammersley, his and others' (anon.) sale, Christie's London 6-7 March 1801, lot no. 76 'Constantine receiving the globe and cross', bought in, 67gn. Hammersley and others' (anon.) sale, Coxe, London, 11 June 1808, lot no. 9 'An allegorical representation of Constantine receiving under the influence of the cross, authority over the Earth and Ocean', bought in, 95gn.

Henry Brooksbank, 1828, England, by 1828, lent to the 1828 British Institution exhibition

Stamp Brooksbank, pre 31 May 1834, England, presumably by descent, Governor of the Bank of England 1741-43, his (and others') sale, Stanley, London 31 May 1834, lot no. 89 'The interview between Constantine and his son Crispus'.

Henry Pelham-Clinton, 7th Duke of Newcastle, 14th Earl of Lincoln, pre 1928, England

Francis Pelham-Clinton-Hope, 8th Duke of Newcastle, 15th Earl of Lincoln, 1928-04 Jun 1937, England, by descent, sold Christie London, 4 June 1937, lot no. 90, purchased by Agnew's jointly with Buttery and Clark, £280

Agnew's, London, 04 Jun 1937-17 Feb 1940, London/England, Purchased at Christie London 4 June 1937, lot no. 90, jointly owned by Agnew's with Buttery and Clark. Agnew's 1/3 share was sold to Buttery on 17 February 1940, when presumably Buttery had a buyer.

Horace Buttery, London, 17 Feb 1940, London/England, [dealer]

H.E.M. Benn, post 17 Feb 1940-Dec 1979, Ilkley/Haslemere/Surrey/England, Purchased by Benn from Buttery 1940, sold to Agnew's, December 1979

Agnew's, London, Dec 1979-30 Jul 1981, London/England, Sold to James Fairfax, 30 July 1981. Agnew's stock no. 43546.

James Oswald Fairfax AC, 30 Jul 1981-31 Aug 1993, Bowral/New South Wales/Australia, Gift of James Fairfax 1993. Purchased by James Fairfax from Agnew's 1981.

Referenced in 33 publications


Agnew's, London, Rubens: oil sketches and smaller pictures, 1961, opp. page 12 (illus.), 18. 19

Agnew's, London, Old master paintings and drawings: autumn exhibition, London, 1980, 28 (illus.). 20

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Great gifts, great patrons: an exhibition celebrating private patronage of the Gallery, Sydney, 1994. no catalogue numbers

Art Gallery of New South Wales, The James Fairfax collection of old masters, Sydney, 1992. no catalogue numbers

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales Annual Report 1994, Sydney, 1994, 13 (colour illus.), 44.

Richard Beresford and Peter Raissis, The James Fairfax collection of old master paintings, drawings and prints, Sydney, 2003, 164-7, 165 (colour illus.). 47

Koenraad Brosens, The Burlington Magazine, ‘A case of mistaken identity: Rubens’s so-called Constantine and Crispus oil-sketch in Sydney’, pg. 86–89, London, Feb 2011, 86, 87 (colour illus.) 89. fig.14

Koenraad Brosens, Simiolus, ‘Who commissioned Rubens’s Constantine series? A new perspective: the entrepreneurial strategy of Marc Comans and François de la Planche’, pg.166-82, 2007-2008, 166, 176 (illus.). fig.8

Koenraad Brosens, The Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard, 'Constantine and the tapesty market', pg.157-184, London, 2011, 162, 189, 248 (colour illus.)., fig.2

William Buchanan, Memoirs of painting, London, 1824, vol. I, 169.

Fernand Calmettes, Maurice Fenaille and Jules Guiffrey, État général des tapisseries de la Manufacture des Gobelins depuis son origine jusqu'a jours, 1600-1900, 1903-1923, vol. I, 1923: 46.

Victor Champier and G. Roger Sandoz, Le Palais-Royal d'aprés des documents inédits (1629-1900) Ouvrage illustré de planches hors texte, eaux-fortes, héliotypies, fac-similés d'aquarelles, 1900, vol. I, 519. note 1

Jacques Couché, Galerie du Palais royal: gravée d'aprés les tableaux des differentes ecoles qui la composent: avec un abrégé de la vie des peintres & une description historique de chaque tableau, Paris, 1786-1808, vol. II, 1808: [115].

L.F. Dubois de Saint-Gelais, Description des tableaux du Palais royal: avec la vie des peintres à la tête de leurs ouvrages: dédiée a monseigneur le Duc d'Orleans, premier prince du Sang, 2nd edition, Paris, 1737, 407. no. XI, as 'La conversion de Constantin'

L.F. Dubois de Saint-Gelais, Description des tableaux du Palais royal: avec la vie des peintres à la tête de leurs ouvrages: dédiée a monseigneur le Duc d'Orleans, premier prince du Sang., Paris, 1727, 409. no. XI, as 'La conversion de Constantin'

David T. Dubon, Tapestries from the Samuel H. Kress collections at the Philadelphia Museum of Art: the History of Constantine the Great designed by Peter Paul Rubens and Pietro da Cortona, United States of America, 1964, 10. note 36, pl. 67

Renée Free, AGNSW Collections, 'The Western Heritage, Renaissance to Twentieth Century', pg. 108-172, Sydney, 1994, 117 (colour illus.).

Algernon Graves, A century of loan exhibitions, 1813-1912, 5 vols, London, 1913-1915, vol. III, 1914: 1161.

Guildhall of St George, King's Lynn, Oil sketches and small pictures by Sir Peter Paul Rubens, 1960, 11. 12

Julius S. Held, The oil sketches of Peter Paul Rubens: a critical catalogue, 2 vols, 1980, vol.I, 79-80, vol.II, pl.47. no. 46

John Ingamells, The Wallace collection: catalogue of pictures, IV, Dutch and Flemish, London, 1992, 323. no. 7

David Jaffé, Rubens' Self-portrait in focus, Canberra, 1988, 15 (illus.).

David Jaffé, Art and Australia (Vol. 21, No. 3), 'Rubens and Australia', pg. 368-73, Sydney, Autumn 1984, 368-70, 369 (illus.).

Michael Jaffé, Rubens: catalogo completo, Milan, 1989, 268. 686, fig. 686

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Western Collection: Paintings and Sculpture', pg. 17-77, Sydney, 1999, 25 (colour illus.).

John Smith, A catalogue raisonné of the works of the most eminent Dutch, Flemish, and French painters, 1829-1842, vol. II, 1830. no. 741

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Constantine the Great: first public exhibition of all major panels of the tapestries from the Barberini Palace, Rome, given to the Philadelphia Museum of Art by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation; the designs by Peter Paul Rubens and Pietro da Cortona, lent by European and American collections, 1964, 87-89, 90 (illus.). 22a, fig. 55

Leo van Puyvelde, Les esquisses de Rubens, 1940, 28. no. 12

Leo van Puyvelde, The sketches of Rubens, London, 1947, 30. no. 12

Max Rooses, L'oeuvre de P. P. Rubens; histoire et description de ses tableaux et dessins, 1886-1892, vol. III. 1890: 214. no. 726

Casimir Stryienski, La galerie du régent, Philippe, duc d'Orléans, Paris, 1913, 188-9. no. 16

G.F. Waagen, Treasures of Art in Great Britain, London, 1854-1857, vol. II, 502.

G.F. Waagen, Works of art and artists in England, London, 1838, vol.I, 341.