The Banquet of Cleopatra

The subject is from the 'Natural History' of Pliny and shows Cleopatra, the Queen of Egypt, about to dissolve one of her famous pearls in a cup of wine, thus expressing her contempt for wealth to Mark Anthony, who recoils in surprise.

This small painting may be an early sketch for the decoration of Tiepolo's famous frescoed room in the Palazzo Labia in Venice, which was painted in about 1745.

As in the banquet scenes of Veronese, which were a strong influence on Tiepolo, the architecture and the figures of the attendants enhance the effect of splendour. The viewpoint is low and the table is set on a dais between matching buildings with terraces for spectators. In the foreground a servant removes a tray and Anthony's horse is held in check by a groom.

Key facts

Artist dates
1696 - 1770
Full title
The Banquet of Cleopatra
Date made
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
46.3 x 66.7 cm
Acquisition credit
Presented by the Misses Rachel F. and Jean I. Alexander; entered the collection, 1972
Inventory number
Location in Gallery