The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
The Defeat and Death of Maxentius
  • Peter Paul Rubens (1577 - 1640)
  • The Defeat and Death of Maxentius
  • France
  • c. 1622
  • Painting
  • Oil on oak panel
  • Image size: 38.3 x 64.5 cm
    Frame size: 60.3 x 87 cm
  • P520
  • East Drawing Room
Commentary
History
Further Reading
  • Constantine the Great (c.280-337AD), the first Christian Emperor of Rome, became the sole Emperor in 312AD after defeating his co-Emperor Maxentius at the battle of the Milvian bridge on the Tiber, an event traditionally regarded as a turning point for Christianity within the Roman Empire. Maxentius, who is said to have sabotaged the bridge, fell to his death when it collapsed beneath the weight of his fleeing army. This is one of twelve scenes designed for tapestries illustrating the life of Constantine. The series, celebrating a Christian hero, was probably devised by Rubens to impress Louis XIII of France - a Bourbon king of France who was referred to as His Most Christian Majesty - at a time when Rubens was frequently in Paris working for the King’s mother, Marie de Médicis.