William Kent after Carlo Maratta, Cleopatra dropping the pearl into the wine, a red chalk drawing

Italy, about AD 1710-1720

Kent (1684/5-1748) travelled widely around Italy between 1709 and 1719, spending most time in Rome, Florence, Parma and Venice. In 1714, on the Brenta, in the Villa Giovanelli, Kent encountered the decorative scheme representing Antony and Cleopatra, by Ricci and Pellegrini. It was here that Kent met Lord Burlington, with whom he returned to England in 1719 and who was the mentor of much of Kent's career, encompassing painting, architecture, furniture and garden design.

In Italy, Kent's sponsors expected him to purchase or copy works of art for them: this red chalk drawing may fit into the latter category, as it includes, in the lower right hand corner for example, many hatched and cross-hatched lines, which often appear in drawings made by printmakers or from which prints are made. The fact that faint stylus lines are perceptible around the main lines of the drapery suggests that this drawing was intended for transfer, often part of the printmaking process. This drawing relates to a print made by Jacob Frey, who left his native Switzerland in 1702 for Rome, where he took lessons from Carlo Maratta (1625-1713). Frey's engraving of 1720 of this composition differs slightly in details from this drawing.

The composition seems most closely based on an original painting by Maratta, now in the Palazzo Venezia, Rome.

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William Kent after Carlo Maratta, Cleopatra dropping the pearl into the wine, a red chalk drawing

William Kent, Cleopatra dropping the pearl into the wine, Italy, about AD 1710-1720


More information


S. Walker and P. Higgs, Cleopatra of Egypt: from histo (London, The British Museum Press, 2001)

J. Ingamells, A dictionary of British and Ir (Yale University Press, 1997)

N. Turner and C. Plazzotta, Drawings by Guercino from Brit (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)


Height: 364.000 mm
Width: 257.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1954-2-13-5


Purchased with assistance from the H.L. Florence Fund


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