Jean Léone Gérôme
Cleopatra before Caesar
Signed lower left, 1866
oil on canvas/huile sur toile
Size 72 x 51 in ( 183 x 129.5 cm)
Location:as of 2007 in Private Collection
Most famously painted by Gerome in his 1866 'Cleopatra and Caesar', this pose is one that haunts the figure of Cleopatra throughout the 19th century. Sometimes titled 'Cleopatra before Caesar', Gerome's image is based, ostensibly, on one of the most familiar representations of Cleopatra in her history, presented originally by Plutarch and discussed above: that of Cleopatra, with the help of Apollodorus, having smuggled herself past the posted Roman guard, being unrolled from her hiding place of either the rugs or a carpet of bedding before Julius Caesar. "The stout slave clears the drapery with a single gesture'" narrated Shinn in 1881,"and crouches motionless, Cleopatra trusting her balance to his support with one royal knuckle, knowing that her chattel will not stirr until released."