Sculpture of an Enthroned King

Date: ca. 1230–35

Geography: Made in Lombardy or Veneto, Italy

Culture: North Italian

Medium: Limestone

Dimensions: Overall: 39 1/2 x 23 1/4 x 26 in. (100.3 x 59.1 x 66 cm)
weight: 626lb. (284kg)

Classification: Sculpture-Stone

Credit Line: Mrs. Stephen V. Harkness Fund, 1922

Accession Number: 22.31.2


Probably intended to be an allegorical image of the king as judge, this imposing sculpture of a crowned figure seated on a massive throne must have originated from an important northern Italian civic monument. It is a rare survival of an image of a ruler from a secular setting such as a court of justice or a city gate. During the struggles for supremacy with the communes—or municipal corporations—of north and central Italy, the German kings and emperors attempted to establish jurisdiction over cities through self-representation on civic monuments. Examples of imperial portraiture survive from the reign of Frederick II of Hohenstaufen (r. 1215–50), German emperor and king of Sicily, who promoted the revival of classical antiquity in art. A connection between the court of Frederick II and the Museum's Enthroned King is suggested by the sculpture's monumental, classicizing aspect and by the imagery of the king as arbiter of justice, an ideal of kingship that was espoused in the emperor's own writings.