Bust of Cleopatra

Isaac Broome American
Manufacturer Lenox, Incorporated American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 774

The design of Broome’s Cleopatra bust originates to the early period of his career when he started working at Ott and Brewer in anticipation of the Philadelphia Centennial of 1876. Around that time, or perhaps slightly later, Broome introduced this model of Cleopatra, an exciting departure from the political portraits he made for the Centennial display. Shown at the Paris Exposition Universelle, where it won a gold medal, Cleopatra garnered a lot of attention because it was an extraordinary representation of the dark-skinned beauty with the use of clays colored with oxides and elaborate gilded details. The work captured the attention of many admirers (and some detractors), and was widely discussed in the press at the time. The cream-colored version is an almost shocking contrast.

The mold for Broome’s Cleopatra, along with many others, were acquired by Charles Howell Cook when he bought the Ott & Brewer firm in 1894. In 1914, the mold for Cleopatra was given to the Lenox firm, where Broome was then working, and where this cast was made. It is one of three copies that were cast in 1914. As indicated by the inscription, this one was presented to William S. Hancock, manager of Lenox's retail sales.

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