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This painting was long known as 'Sophonisba taking Poison' because it was thought to show the suicide of Sophonisba, wife of the Numidian King Massinissa, as recounted by Livy. In fact Creti based his composition on a painting of Artemisia by the Bolognese painter Giovan Gioseffo dal Sole (1654 - 1719). Queen Artemisia drank the ashes of her dead husband Mausolus in order to become his living tomb. She built a great funerary monument (mausoleum) at Halicarnassus to his memory, which became one of the wonders of the ancient world.

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