DELACROIX, Eugène
(b. 1798, Charenton-Saint-Maurice, d. 1863, Paris)

Cleopatra and the Peasant

1838
Oil on canvas, 98 x 123 cm
Ackland Art Museum, Chapel Hill

Cleopatra and the Peasant allows Delacroix to contrast beauty and ugliness, illustrating the mixture of the sublime and the grotesque that, in his view, typified Shakespeare's art. The source of the painting is indeed Anthony and Cleopatra, though certain critics have cited the name of Plutarch. This is the denouement; Cleopatra stares in fascination at the asp.

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