- Girolamo di Benvenuto del Guasta
- Cleopatra and the asp
- 38 by 20 1/2 in.; 96.5 by 51.5 cm.
- tempera on panel
Chigi Saraceni collection, Siena;
Luigi Grassi, Florence, by 1965;
With Richard Feigen & Co., New York.
B. Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance - Central Italian and North Italian Schools, 1968, v. I p. 188;
O. Pujmanovà, Arte rinascimentale italiana nelle collezioni ceche, 1997, p. 114;
N. Edwards, in Art and Love in Renaissance Italy, exhibition catalogue, New York 2008, p. 314, under cat. no. 144.
This panel is one of a set of three formerly in the Chigi Saraceni collection, Siena. The other two panels, one depicting the Vestal Tuccia
and the other Portia
, are in Sternberk Castle (Czech Republic) and the Musée de Chambéry, respectively. These particular kinds of panels, comprising sets of allegories of the Virtues or depictions of heroes and heroines of antiquity, were used for a type of interior decoration that flourished in Siena in the later 15th
century and throughout the 16th
As with this painting of Cleopatra, these figures were often set against extensive landscape backgrounds, as if viewed through tall windows, and were probably set into the wall of a room and separated by some sort of framing element.
Another such set of panels, depicting the Three Theological Virtues, by an Umbrian painter, circa 1500 (formerly given to the Griselda Master and Pietro di Domenico) is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (acc. no. 1982.177.1-3).
1. See L. Kanter in Painting in Renaissance Siena 1420-1500, exhibition catalogue, New York 1988, p. 346.