The Death of Cleopatra
(mid–17th cent.), oil, canvas, 86,5 x 71 cm
NG S 3034, National Gallery of Slovenia, Ljubljana
The painting shows Cleopatra, the last queen of Egypt, who seduced the triumvir Mark Anthony. When he committed suicide after his defeat in the battle at Actium in 31 BC, Cleopatra, frightened what Octavian might do, chose an easier death – she held an adder to her breast. We see her just after the poisonous snake has bitten.
The style is very characteristic of the Florentine Seicento and is based on the painting of Francesco Furini. But the typology and the psychological accents show the hand of Felice Ficherelli. The picture falls into his last period, an assumption also confirmed by Francesca Baldassari (in conversation with Daniele Benati).
Provenance: Dr. Izidor Cankar, art historian and Yugoslav ambassador to Argentina, bought this painting as a work by Dosso Dossi in the Galleria de Don Lorenzo Pellerano in Buenos Aires on 22 April 1937, Cat. No. 688. – Loaned to the Government of Slovenia in 1978 for the furnishing of Brdo Castle near Kranj. Purchased by the Narodna galerija from Cankar’s daughter, Dr. Veronika Cankar, on 30 March 1994.
Exhibitions: 1960, Ljubljana, No. 21; 1993, Ljubljana, No. 14.
Lit: Cevc 1960, p. 21, Cat. No. 21, Fig. 13 (Francesco Furini); Zeri and Rozman 1993, p. 135, Cat. No. 14, Fig. 13.