ARISTEDE PETRILLI (ITALIAN, 1868-1930) MARBLE BUST OF CLEOPATRA
Signed "Gall. Prof. APetrilli Firenze” verso, inscribed CLEOPATRA on base
Item # 806LAZ15W
A very powerful bust capturing the fate of Cleopatra, where she committed suicide by allowing an Egyptian cobra to bite and poison her. At 39 years old, her death was a culmination of her failed alliance with her husband Mark Antony against Octavian and effectively ended the war with the Roman Republic. By committing suicide, she deprived Octavian of the opportunity to capture her and parade her as a prisoner - upon receiving word of Cleopatra’s death, Mark Antony ended his life with his sword. A tragic tale that Astride Petrilli captures with a certain emotion and expression that is noteworthy: Cleopatra holds her shoulders high with dignity with the asp wrapped around her wrist. His sculpture captures the very moment the asp has latched onto her flesh; her brow is furrowed deeply, revealing a hint of physical pain and a well of emotional pain as all is lost. Her garment falls from her shoulders revealing a scarab shoulder cuff and matching necklace, her hair pulled back beneath a crown incised with a spread-winged Phoenix surmounted by a (now absent) bird’s beak. The sculpture is signed along the back of her shoulders "Gall… Prof. APetrilli Firenze” in his standard script. She is raised over a stop-fluted base with the same Phoenix wings in raised relief over the block lettering of her name.
- "Nuovo Dizionario degli Scultori Italiani", A. Panzetta, Turin, 2003, vol. 2, p. 690
Open market sales:
- Christies, London, 3 November 1994, Sale 5275, lot 288; 25 3/4” H sculpture of Cleopatra signed "Gall prof. A Petrilli Firenze”, marble; restorations
- Sotheby’s, London, 11 July 2018, lot 37; 27 1/8” H sculpture of Cleopatra signed “Call - Prof. APetrilli Firenze”, partially polychromed marble, integral marble base
Measurements: 25” H x 20” W x 9 1/2” D
Loss of bird beak from her crown; small loss to edge of her hair comb at back; spots of rust, surface of marble stained and discolored with age; extensive chipping to edges and corners; some dirt and grime in deeper crevices.