Gerard de Lairesse: Cleopatra’s Banquet (1675-1680)

(Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

A painting by the Dutch/ Flemish artist Gerard de Lairesse (1640-1711). The scene which the artist shows here is from Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historia. Queen Cleopatra VII Philopator of Egypt made a wager with Mark Antony who could give the most lavish banquet. Cleopatra won by dissolving a priceless pearl in vinegar and then drinking the mixture. The older man between Cleopatra and Mark Antony is Lucius Munatius Plancus who was to decide the winner of the wager (he is holding the arm of Cleopatra to signify she is the winner). Painting from 1675-1680.

See also a painting with the same subject by the Italian artist Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696-1770): The Banquet of Cleopatra (1744)