Menu Shopping cart
Your basket is empty.
Support us


Permanent Collection


Felice Ficherelli

(San Gimignano, 1603 – Florence, 1660)

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.

From Mannerism to Baroque
Although imported early-Baroque works prevailed in this period and those by itinerant artists, the 17th century paved the way for the future. The political circumstances in the region were relatively stabilized in spite of the Thirty Year War and the patronage gradually grew stronger. The arrival of the Jesuits in Ljubljana, the activity of the polymath Johann Weichard Valvasor, particularly his graphic workshop at Bogenšperk/Wagensperg Castle, and the foundation of the Academia operosorum at the end of the century were the key events of the time. 

Characteristic of sculptural production on the Slovenian territory in the 17th century were the so-called “golden altars”. As a rule, these were gilded and polychrome carved wooden retables with rich ornamentation, first with crustaceous patterns which turned into vine and grapes that covered architectural framework until the achantus foliage took over and obliterated architectural structure completely. The making of golden altars included several branches of fine arts: prints, carving, gilding, painting. Religious painting of the first half of the century still contains Mannerist elements; in the second half also secular motifs became more numerous, particularly genre scenes and aristocratic portraits. The artworks mainly echo northern early-Baroque influences. 

Noteworthy among the newcomers who settled in Carniola with their workshops were the painter and gilder Hans Georg Geiger von Geigerfeld in the mid-century, who had moved to Carniola from the region of the Central Alps, and the Fleming Almanach in the third quarter of the 17th century, known only by his nickname, who worked here only for a few years. The extraordinary productivity and skills of the latter are evidenced by his rare surviving works, mentions in Valvasor’s books, and aristocratic probate inventories.