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Cleopatra

American Art

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Cleopatra

Artwork Details

Artist/Maker

William Wetmore Story
American, 1819–1895

Date

1858, carved 1878

Medium

Marble

Accession #

2010.89

Dimensions

54 5/8 x 29 3/8 x 49 inches

Location

On View - Wieland Pavilion, Taylor Lobby

Description

A prolific author of poems, prose, and social commentary, the American sculptor William Story was also a muse. Nathaniel Hawthorne based the central figure on Story for his wildly popular 1860 novel, The Marble Faun, a romance featuring a young sculptor and his carving of Cleopatra. The book’s popularity thrust both Story and his sculpture into the limelight.

For his pensive rendering of the Egyptian queen, Story selects a moment of psychological tension. Caught deep in thought, Cleopatra wears a polished bracelet on her outstretched arm, foreshadowing her certain death from the bite of a venomous snake.

Credit

Gift of the West Foundation in honor of Gudmund Vigtel and Michael E. Shapiro

Image Copyright

Photo by Jason Hales