Cleopatra and Octavian

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Cleopatra and Octavian 1787 - 1788
Gauffier demonstrates his fine narrative skills in this small, colourful and highly polished painting. It reflects contemporary interest in Ancient Egypt. The subject is based on Plutarch's 'Life' of Mark Anthony which describes Octavian's meeting with the Egyptian queen Cleopatra after his victory over Mark Anthony at the battle of Actium in 31 BC. Octavian remains unconvinced by Cleopatra's pleas of innocence, which then turn to flattery as she compares him with his great uncle, Julius Caesar. The painting was commissioned by the Compte d'Angiviller, the influential superintendent of the king's art works, and intended as a pendant for a painting by Jacques-Louis David.

Glossary Open


When an individual or organisation employs an artist to execute a particular project, the process and the resulting work are termed a ‘commission’.


A hanging item of jewellery, usually suspended from a necklace, earring or brooch, or a fixed hanging architectural ornament or lighting device. It is also used for pairs of artworks that are designed to be shown together. These are also called 'companion pieces'.

Commission, Pendant


  • Acc. No. NG 2526
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 83.80 x 112.50 cm (framed: 137.50 x 108.60 x 6.70 cm)
  • Credit Purchased with the aid of the Art Fund 1991