The Thorvaldsens Museum Archives

Comment on 30.11.1804

An antique sculpture of a seated woman, which, at the time of Thorvaldsen and up until 1919, was generally believed to represent Empress Agrippina the Elder (c.14 BC – AD 33).
Recent research, however, has shown that the portrait is more likely to represent Helena, Emperor Constantine’s mother (c. 250-57 – c. 329-35 AD), cf. Francis Haskell and Nicholas Penny: Taste and the Antique. The Lure of Classical Sculpture 1500-1900, New Haven and London 1981, p.133-134 and Wolfgang Helbig: Führer duch die öffentlichen Sammlungen klassischer Altertümer in Rom, vol. II, Tübingen 1966, p. 153-154. The portrait is executed after a Greek statue representing Aphrodite by Phidias.
The statue is still at the Musei Capitolini, as Thorvaldsen writes.

Last updated 13.05.2016