- 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
- Grand Courts
- Accession number
- Artist information
Sir Peter Paul Rubens
Works in the collection
Peter Paul Rubens was one of the most versatile, erudite
and influential artists of the 17th century, revered for his
phenomenal range and output. This is one of a series
of his lively oil sketches (modelli) representing the life
of Constantine (288–337), the first Christian Emperor
of Rome. Made for the French royal tapestry works,
the oil sketches were later worked up into full-scale
cartoons from which large tapestries were woven.
The scene is set on a seashore. Constantius stands
on the left and places an orb or globe of the earth
into the hand of his son, Constantine. The newly
appointed emperor, dressed in armour, also receives
a ship’s rudder, symbolising good government
from the winged figure of divine providence who
hovers above. Beneath her is Neptune, holding
his trident and reclining among rushes.
Shown in 11 exhibitions
Unknown (exhibited for sale), Thomas Moore Slade's house, Chatham, , 1792–1792
Unknown (exhibited for sale), 125 Pall Mall, London, , Apr 1793–Jun 1793
Unknown (exhibited for sale), 16 Old Bond Street, London, , May 1795–May 1795
Unknown, British Institution exhibition, British Institution, London, 1828–1828
Oil sketches and smaller pictures by Sir Peter Paul Rubens, Guildhall of St George, King's Lynn, , 1960–1960
Rubens: oil sketches and smaller pictures, Agnew's, London, London, 20 Feb 1961–11 Mar 1961
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, Philadelphia Museum of Art, United States of America, 01 Oct 1964–01 Nov 1964
Old master paintings and drawings: autumn exhibition, Agnew's, London, London, 21 Oct 1980–12 Dec 1980
Rubens' self-portrait in focus, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 13 Aug 1988–30 Oct 1988
The James Fairfax collection of old masters, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 25 Apr 1992–14 Jun 1992
Great gifts, great patrons, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 17 Aug 1994–19 Oct 1994
The James Fairfax collection of old master paintings, drawings and prints, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 17 Apr 2003–20 Jul 2003
Grand Courts Collection Rehang, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Nov 2021–2025
Referenced in 33 publications
Agnew's, London, Rubens: oil sketches and smaller pictures, 1961, opp. page 12 (illus.), 18. cat.no. 19
Agnew's, London, Old master paintings and drawings: autumn exhibition, London, 1980, 28 (illus.). cat.no. 20
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.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Great gifts, great patrons: an exhibition celebrating private patronage of the Gallery, Sydney, 1994. no catalogue numbers
Richard Beresford and Peter Raissis, The James Fairfax collection of old master paintings, drawings and prints, Sydney, 2003, 164-7, 165 (colour illus.). cat.no. 47
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.). cat.no.1a, fig.2
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
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: .
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. cat.no. 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, Art and Australia (Vol. 21, No. 3), 'Rubens and Australia', pg. 368-73, Sydney, Autumn 1984, 368-70, 369 (illus.).
David Jaffé, Rubens' Self-portrait in focus, Canberra, 1988, 15 (illus.).
Michael Jaffé, Rubens: catalogo completo, Milan, 1989, 268. cat.no. 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.). cat.no. 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
Gustav Frederich Waagen, Works of art and artists in England, London, 1838, vol.I, 341.
Gustav Frederich Waagen, Treasures of art in Great Britain, being an account of the chief collections of paintings, drawings, sculptures, illuminated mss., etc, 3 vols, vol 2, London, 1854, vol. II, 502.
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.