TIEPOLO, Giovanni Battista
(b. 1696, Venezia, d. 1770, Madrid)

The Banquet of Cleopatra

1746-47
Fresco, 650 x 300 cm
Palazzo Labia, Venice

The table for Cleopatra's banquet is laid out in front of a portico, behind which the sails of the Raman fleet are visible. The somewhat static ordering of the main figures is relaxed by the ironic positioning in the foreground of the little dog and the dwarf, who drags himself with difficulty up the steps towards the table. Cleopatra's exposed décolleté is meant as a reference to the by now advanced stage of her relationship with Anthony. In contrast to Tiepolo's Melbourne picture of the same subject, the erotic and witty interpretation of historical events is given prominence over the festive setting itself.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 14 minutes):
Jules Massenet: Cleopatra, Cleopatra's aria