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I Am Cleopatra: The Seduction and Stoicism of a Newly Identified Painting by Matthäus Merian the Younger (1621 – 1687)

Jahel Sanzsalazar

Published online:

19 Apr 2019



A previously anonymous Death of Cleopatra is here attributed to the Basel-born painter Matthäus Merian the Younger. Besides crucial stylistic connections with his known works, further evidence is given by a signed engraving, which was never associated with any known painting. The print is inscribed with a poem and a dedication to his patron Baron Septimus Jörger von Tollet. Word and image summarize the fascination and criticism that Cleopatra has aroused since antiquity. Presenting a warning against the power of her seduction while exhibiting her stoic death by virtue of the constancy of her love for Mark Antony, they respond to Merian’s adherence to the principles of Neostoicism. Merian creates a remarkably original Cleopatra that provides a key for future identifications of this lesser-known facet of his oeuvre.

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Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte Issues

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