The subject of the painting derives from Plutarch's life of Mark Antony, where he writes of Octavian's visit to offer comfort to Cleopatra after her defeat at the Battle of Actium and the subsequent suicide of Mark Antony.

Cleopatra attempts unsuccessfully to conceal her remaining wealth from Octavian who, despite her failed deception, assures her that he will treat her generously. The Comte d'Angiviller commissioned this work from Gauffier following his unsuccessful attempt to buy a work by Jacques-Louis David. Gauffier was so successful in matching the work of David that this painting was attributed to David until 1954.


Painted for Comte d'Angiviller; Vernier (as David) 1900; Bessonneau d'Angers by whom offered for sale at Galerie Charpentier, Paris, 1954 (as David).

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