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The myth of Cleopatra at Pinacotheque de Paris

Cleopatra is without a doubt one of the most famed historical personalities in History’s pantheon, alongside Caesar, Charlemagne, Napoleon or De Gaulle.

The myth of Cleopatra at Pinacotheque de Paris
On the purely archaeological level, many pieces have been destroyed. On the historical level, the accounts and opinions are still widely debated. All that is left of her is the notion of an outstanding beauty, of fantastical love affairs with the two most powerful men in the world at that time, an image that was created during her lifetime and that took on an unimaginable scale as soon as she vanished, to be transformed into an ancestral myth, which never ceased to be taken up in all its forms and in all periods.

No Queen throughout time has remained more famous in the world than Cleopatra even though we still do not know exactly what she looked like. She was shown as Egyptian, obviously, but also as Nubian or African and black, never as the Greek she was in fact. Imagined as irresistible, she is even shown as having been the most beautiful women in the world whose nose remains famous thanks to Pascal’s phrase: “Had Cleopatra’s nose been shorter, the face of the earth would have been changed.”

The myth of Cleopatra at Pinacotheque de Paris
The head of a statue depicting Cleopatra (69-30BC), the last active pharaoh of Ancient Egypt,
is displayed as part of the exhibition entitled "the myth of Cleopatra" on April 9, 2014
at the Pinacotheque in Paris [Credit: AFP/Eric Feferberg]
She was a young Greek queen, 18 years old – descendant of Ptolemy the First, son of Lagos, general of Alexander the Great, who was endowed with Egypt at the Emperor’s death and who became Pharaoh in order to emphasize his power and to govern that province. After her death, she became one of the most enduring myths in the history of mankind.

Throughout the centuries she became the most representative image of an Egypt that has in fact absolutely nothing to do with what was the Ancient Egypt of the Pharaohs, Memphis or Tutankhamen.

From the genuine Cleopatra to all her most famous incarnations, from Sarah Bernhardt to Liz Taylor and Monica Bellucci, it's all an attempt to tell who that young queen was and how that woman’s myth took hold of her own life, so as to turn it into an authentic living legend, which none of us, old or young, wherever we are on this earth, can ignore.

The myth of Cleopatra at Pinacotheque de Paris
People look at the head of a statue depicting Julius Caesar (100-44BC) as they visit the exhibition entitled "the myth of Cleopatra" on April 9, 2014 at the
Pinacotheque in Paris [Credit: AFP/Eric Feferberg]
Everything is regarding Cleopatra. From the soap we use every day, stamped with her profile, or the glue, up to the merest fancy dress party where Cleopatra’s clothes and her famous headdress are seen and are often the most noticed.

The supposed romance she entertained with Caesar then with Mark Anthony, she became all by herself, through her own death, one of the most classical images of her character.

The exhibition was made possible, due to the complicity with Italian partner Arthemisia and with Mrs. Iole Siena and her team that enabled its first presentation in Rome. It is also due to the outstanding work carried out by the exhibition’s curator, Giovanni Gentili that this show has managed to take on this depth and this importance in the Pinacotheque de Paris.

It also due to the presence of the foremost specialists of each of the experts fascinated by Cleopatra’s myth, that this exhibition is so all-encompassing.

Source: Beyluxe [April 11, 2014]

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