Vision of the Cross - by Raphael

"In this sign will you conquer!" is one of the best-known phrases in history and lies at the heart of this fresco of Constantine's vision of the cross, executed by Giulio Romano after Raphael's designs. The scene unfolds in Emperor Constantine's military camp in advance of the battle of the Milvian Bridge. Constantine stands on a podium outside his massive round tent and addresses his soldiers, who can be seen rushing up to him with their standards. Suddenly, the dark clouds part and three angels appear holding a blood-red cross and accompanied by the announcement of victory (in Greek) quoted above. The inscription is positioned above a round, towerlike structure that has been identified as the Mausoleum ot Hadrian, later the Castel Sant'Angelo, and alludes to Constantine's role as the first Christian emperor of Rome. Constantine stares, transfixed by the vision of the cross, while the army commander standing by his side holds a standard bearing the cross. In the agitation of the emperor and his soldiers, Romano reveals himself to be a master at conveying emotion, just as the squires standing below the podium holding Constantine's armor, the dwarf with the helmet in the right foreground, and the fluttering dragon standard demonstrate his talent for narrative.