Female head known as“Teodora”

Byzantine sculptor(?)6th century

Sforzesco Castle

Sforzesco Castle
Milan, Italy

This female head, known as "Theodora" and
perhaps made in Constantinople, goes back to the 6th century and the emperor
Justinian and is one of the masterpieces preserved in the museums of the
Castle. It was found in 1846 during excavations in Via San Primo and is
traditionally identified with a portrait of the Empress Theodora, beloved wife
of Justinian, based on a resemblance to the representation of that sovereign in
the mosaics of the Basilica of St. Vitale in Ravenna. Even the type of hairstyle is
the same, with the hair gathered in a cap embellished with an elaborate circlet
of pearls. The features, natural and
abstract at the same time, make this head an early masterpiece of Byzantine
art. The soft sculpting of cheeks and mouth dialogue with the essential,
geometric rendering of the volumes, such as the hair or the large almond-shaped
eyes. These, wide open and fixed on an unfathomable horizon, mark the sacred
dimension of sovereignty, in line with imperial portraiture of the period


  • Title: Female head known as“Teodora”
  • Creator: Byzantine sculptor(?)
  • Date Created: 6th century
  • Location: Museo di Arte Antica, Castello Sforzesco, Milan
  • Physical Dimensions: 27 x 18 x 22 cm
  • Type: Sculpture
  • Rights: Comune di Milano - Civiche Raccolte Artistiche, Castello Sforzesco, Milano
  • External Link: https://arteantica.milanocastello.it/
  • Medium: Marble
  • Art Genre: Portrait
  • Art Movement: Byzantine art
  • Art Form: Sculpture
  • Original title: Testa femminile detta di “Teodora”
  • Artist Nationality: Byzantine

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more


Google apps