One of the most magnificent images of Antony and Cleopatra was painted by the Victorian academician Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema (1836-1912).
Based on Shakespeare’s play, Tadema’s scene shows the fateful first encounter. Mark Antony has left his trireme in the distance and approaches the Egyptian queen’s royal barge. She holds the traditional flail and crook, lounging on a throne decorated with baboon figures. The royal barge is draped with cloth-of-gold and flowers. Slaves waft incense and her assistant plays the flute.
Alma Tadema’s archaeologically based paintings were a huge influence on the early Hollywood film spectaculars like Ben Hur, Intolerance, and the Ten Commandments.
This painting will be put to auction on May 5 at Sotheby’s in New York, with an estimate between three and five million dollars. You can see the original painting, along with an assortment of other 19th Century European paintings at the preview sessions from Friday, April 29th through Wednesday, May 4 from 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM.
Sothebys is in New York City at 1334 York Avenue at 72nd St. Tel: +1 212 606 7000
You can browse the e-catalog at Sotheby's Web site
Alma Tadema on Wikipedia