Sotheby’s follows up their eye-popping sale of Lawrence Alma-Tadema’s The Finding of Moses for nearly $36m last year with another Alma-Tadema work, The Meeting of Antony and Cleopatra, 41 BC ($3-5m)
Renowned for his expansive knowledge of ancient artifact, the chief sources for the objects that Alma-Tadema illustrates in The Meeting of Antony and Cleopatra, 41 B.C. appear to be either from the collections of European museums–where the artist spent countless hours–travels to ancient Greco-Roman sites, or from published surveys of Egyptian culture, art and archaeology that served as source material for many artists. For example, the barge gleams with gold inscriptions in Egyptian hieroglyphs that translate to “The (Female) Ruler”, with the name ‘Cleopatra’ written in cartouche. The Queen herself lounges seductively on her throne holding the traditional crook and flail of a pharaoh, rendered in carnelian and silver.
Soon after leaving Alma-Tadema’s studio, the artist’s interpretation of this ‘historical’ meeting assumed an iconic status. It was published widely in world history books, and later served as important inspiration for theatrical and filmed versions of this famous story, including the legendary 1963 movie starring the late Dame Elizabeth Taylor.