Portrait of the Four Tetrarchs, Venice

4.2
#233 of 849 in Things to do in Venice
The Portrait of the Four Tetrarchs is a porphyry sculpture group of four Roman emperors dating from around 300 AD. The sculptural group has been fixed to a corner of the façade of St Mark's Basilica in Venice, Italy since the Middle Ages. It probably formed part of the decorations of the Philadelphion in Constantinople, and was removed to Venice in 1204 or soon after.

Spolia from the Fourth Crusade, the statues were originally designed as two separate sculptures, each consisting of a pair of armoured late Roman emperors embracing one another. The paired statues stand on plinths supported by a console of the same stone, and their backs are engaged in the remains of large porphyry columns to which the statues were once attached, carved all of a piece. The columns no longer exist, and one emperor pair is missing part of the plinth and an emperor's foot, which has been found in Istanbul. One statue pair has been sliced vertically and is missing a large portion of the right-hand emperor's right side, while another vertical slice divides the two figures and has sawn through their embracing arms.

The Portrait of the Four Tetrarchs probably depicts the four rulers of the Empire instituted by Emperor Diocletian - the first Tetrarchy. He appointed as co-augustus Maximian; they chose Galerius and Constantius I as their caesares; Constantius was father to Constantine the Great. There is disagreement as to the identity of these statues and their placement, but it is suggested that the Eastern rulers form a pair and the Western rulers form the other pair, each pair consisting of the senior augustus and the junior caesar. Another possibility is that the two augusti are depicted in one pair and the two caesares in the other. A third, older theory is that they represent a dynastic group of the Constantinian dynasty.
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Portrait of the Four Tetrarchs Reviews

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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.0
86 reviews
Google
4.7
TripAdvisor
  • Nice scalpture outside of the palace for pictures but i think 25euro per person to enter the palace is a big amount.  more »
  • Unless you know what the Four Tetrachs are, you will either miss this, or see it in the background of one of your pictures. You will pass it if you want to gaze at The Giants Staircase without going....  more »
Google
  • Cool little secret statue
  • flu across atlantic to see this monument and rest of Venice

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