This painting depicts Cleopatra, the last queen of Egypt, receiving the Roman general Mark-Anthony with a lavish feast. Wagering that she can offer him the most expensive meal ever known, the queen wins the bet by dissolving a precious pearl in a glass of vinegar.
It is this (fictional) episode that Tiepolo depicts here. The painting includes a wealth of detail, from the subjects' clothes to their accessories and the architecture. The classical references, which are in keeping with the period in which the story is set, are combined with more modern elements evoking the splendour of Tiepolo's native Venice. The composition of the painting, which is reminiscent of a stage filled with actors, emphasises its theatrical aspect. Tiepolo was the 18th century's greatest representative of the Venetian school and, following in its tradition, he paid close attention to the effects of colours. This small painting was a sketch for an enormous canvas commissioned by a German aristocrat, which is today held at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne.
- Artwork on loan until October 2019, to be presented in the exhibitions "Titian and the Renaissance in Venice" at the Städel Museum, Frankfurt, from February 13 to May 26, 2019, then "Mathilde Bonaparte and the arts" at the Fesch Palace - Museum of fine arts, Ajaccio, from June 27 to September 30, 2019.