Oscar Spalmach (1864-1917), The Death of Cleopatra, 1896, marble, 84 1/2 x 37 1/2 x 32 1/2 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1974.
On this day in 30 BC, Egyptian queen Cleopatra died. One of the most famous monarchs of all time, Cleopatra ruled Egypt from 51 BC until her death in 30 BC. Immortalized through stories, visual art, and theatre, Cleopatra’s story has fascinated for centuries, particularly that of her rumored love with Roman captain Mark Anthony. The legend says that Cleopatra, heartbroken over her love, committed suicide by wrapping a poisonous snake around her arm and letting it bite her. True details about Cleopatra’s life are still being pieced together by historians, but what we do know makes excellent stories of a fierce leader.
This dramatic sculpture by Oscar Spalmach captures the moment just before the snake bites Cleopatra’s arm, as she looks on.