The Death of Cleopatra

Relief
ca. 1697-1715 (made)
The Death of Cleopatra thumbnail 1
The Death of Cleopatra thumbnail 2
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images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Sculpture, Room 111, The Gilbert Bayes Gallery
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This relief was made by Ignaz Elhafen in Germany in ca. 1697-1715. It represents the Death of Cleopatra. The monochrome colouring of material meant that ivories such as this could ape in miniature the ancient marbles much valued by connoisseurs and collectors of the time.

Elhafen (1658-1715) was trained in Innsbruck, and then travelled to Italy, probably between 1675 and 1678. Subsequently he worked in Vienna, and then in Düsseldorf, where he was based at the court of Johann II Wilhelm, the Elector Palatine from 1703/4 onwards. Elhafen worked in ivory above all, although he also produced small-scale sculptures in wood. He specialised in relief sculptures and many of these are based on prints.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Ivory
Brief Description
Relief, ivory, The Death of Cleopatra, by Ignaz Elhafen, German, ca. 1697-1715
Physical Description
The crowned figure of Cleopatra, nude except for drapery around the legs, collapses, supported by two maids. At her breast are two snakes. The two women, one on each side, lie as if dead and three more flee in terror. In the background trees and clouds. Another half-figure of a female is seen on the left, near a fallen urn. At the left is a tree, and clouds of smoke are to be seen in the sky, perhaps the signs of the defeat which led to Cleopatra's suicide. A statue of Diana of Ephesus is visible in the background. The relief is monogrammed 'I.E.'.



Elhafen (1658-1715) was trained in Innsbruck, and then travelled to Italy, probably between 1675 and 1678. Subsequently he worked in Vienna, and then in Düsseldorf, where he was based at the court of Johann II Wilhelm, the Elector Palatine from 1703/4 onwards. Elhafen worked in ivory above all, although he also produced small-scale sculptures in wood. He specialised in relief sculptures and many of these are based on prints.
Dimensions
  • Height: 12cm
  • Width: 19.2cm
Credit line
Given by Dr W. L. Hildburgh FSA
Object history
Given by Dr W.L. Hildburgh F.S.A. in 1949; formerly on loan from Dr Hildburgh.
Subjects depicted
Summary
This relief was made by Ignaz Elhafen in Germany in ca. 1697-1715. It represents the Death of Cleopatra. The monochrome colouring of material meant that ivories such as this could ape in miniature the ancient marbles much valued by connoisseurs and collectors of the time.



Elhafen (1658-1715) was trained in Innsbruck, and then travelled to Italy, probably between 1675 and 1678. Subsequently he worked in Vienna, and then in Düsseldorf, where he was based at the court of Johann II Wilhelm, the Elector Palatine from 1703/4 onwards. Elhafen worked in ivory above all, although he also produced small-scale sculptures in wood. He specialised in relief sculptures and many of these are based on prints.
Bibliographic References
  • Cf. Theuerkauff, C. Studien zur Elfenbeinplastik des Barock: Matthias Rauchmiller und Ignaz Elhafen. Freiburg im Breisgau, 1964, kat. no. 27
  • Cf. Longhurst, M. H. Some signed ivories of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Burlington Magazine. 53, 1928, p. 249
  • Trusted, Marjorie, Baroque & Later Ivories, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 2013, cat. no. 8, p. 13
  • Theuerkauff, Christian. ‘Der “Helffenbeinarbeiter” Ignaz Elhafen’, in: Wiener Jahrbuch für Kunstgeschichte, 21.1968, cat. no. 27
Collection
Accession Number
A.22-1949

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record createdJanuary 13, 2004
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