Back to exhibition

Shakespeare Connected - Ageless Cleopatra

Orientalising Cleopatra

Charles Knight’s extra illustrated edition of the play includes cut-outs of Cleopatra as imagined by nineteenth-century English artists, in this case, the etcher William Henry Mote (right) and the engraver Joseph Brown (below).

Despite being a powerful woman, Cleopatra has been orientalised – or made to seem exotic and sensual – throughout Western history. In the play, Egypt is presented as an openly sexual society.

The queen did indeed wear make-up around her eye; this was made of coal and had medical benefits. Cleopatra also wore many jewels and was famed for her perfume (in fact, she owned a perfume factory near the Dead Sea).


Scroll down to continue.

Illustration of Cleopatra created by Joseph Brown.

SR 39/1848.


Click the arrow to the right of the main image to continue.