- Museum number
Cleopatra dropping the pearl into wine, after Carlo Maratta; three-quarter length, seated to front, looking to right over her left shoulder, holding pearl in her left hand and cup in right hand, curtained background
Red chalk in two colours
- Production date
Height: 364 millimetres
Width: 257 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Turner 1999
In his MS catalogue entry for the drawing, Croft-Murray wrote: "No doubt copied by Kent from an engraving by Jacob Frey in 1720. The original picture is now in the Rhode Island School of Design, U.S.A." There are, however, slight differences between the drawing and Frey's print, an impression of which is in the Department of Prints and Drawings (inv.no. 1874,0808.1707) - for instance the floral pattern on Cleopatra's dress, at the right, does not appear in the print. This would seem to make it more likely that Kent based his drawing on the principal painted version of the composition, a picture by Maratti, now in the Palazzo Venezia in Rome (Mezzetti, 1955, p. 298, fig. 53), which is one of a series of six canvases of 'illustrious women', for which see also1988,1105.91(63) (Appendix II). The painting in Providence (see 'Bulletin of the Rhode Island School of Design', May 1959, p.12), cited by Croft-Murray, diverges from the other representations by cutting the figure just below the waist, eliminating all the nearby furniture, and altering the position of the hand holding the cup.
William Kent (1685-1748), the famous English architect, designer, landscape gardener and painter, first arrived in Italy in 1709, reaching Rome in 1710, where he studied with Benedetto Luti (1666-1724); he was influenced by Giuseppe Chiari (1654-1727) and others of the Maratti aftermath. He travelled widely in Italy in the following years, working on commission for several influential English patrons, including Thomas Coke, later 1st Earl of Leicester, and Lord Burlington, before returning to England in the late autumn of 1719, where he soon established a reputation, above all as an architect and designer.
Literature: Croft-Murray MS, begun c.1960, no. 21.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2001, British Museum, 'Cleopatra of Egypt: from History to Myth', no.374
2013/14 Sep-Feb, New York, Bard Graduate Center. William Kent 1686- 1748
2014 Mar-Jul, London V&A, William Kent 1686-1748
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number