PICTURE OF CLEOPATRA.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE SPECTATOR.
DEAR SIR—I think we have now corresponded long enough to be familiar, so I shall always address you Dear Sir in future. Well then,— Dear Sir, I have seen this curious relic ; and taking TORRETTI to be a man of genius and honour, there can be no doubt it is a genuine en- caustic picture of the Ancients ; but whether Greek or Roman, it is not possible to tell, or, as the Italians are very clever fellows, how much it has been repaired ; but as to its being by TI M 0 MACHITS—nonsense.
In Pliny, book 35th, he says Caesar (Dictator) bought the Medea and Ajax of TIMOMACHUS for eighty talents, and dedicated them to Venus Genetrix.
In the next place, in the same book, Pliny laments that the prema- ture deaths of some artists left their most beautiful works unfinished ; and, first and foremost, he says this was the case with the aforesaid Medea of our friend T I STOMACH us, as well as the Iris of AR I ST / DES, the Tyndaridus of NICOMACHUS, and the Venus of APELLES : so that Julius Caesar bought and dedicated this Medea, unfinished as it was, to Venus Genetrix, —our friend Tistostacnns being dead ; and yet TIMOBIACHUS arose again in the time of Augustus, and, being very polite, painted, as a particular favour, this Cleopatra, to oblige him ! No wonder any longer at the superiority of the Ancients. Again, Cicero (before even Julius Caesar was much known), in his Fourth against Verres, mentions Verres's plunder, among other robberies of the same sort, of these very pictures of Medea and Ajax, from the Cyzicenians.* And lastly, Pliny, in his 7th book, classes TIMOMAC II s as of the same standing as A rEL LES. Thus: Apelles- Aristides—Timomachus—Protogenes. (Apelles and Protogenes were of the time of Alexander.) Therefore, unless our aforesaid and very ancient friend TI stolitACHUS was as polite as we have strong reason to conclude he mayhave been, from a version of a long-disputed passage in Aristotle, he really cannot have painted this picture of Cleopatra.
To conclude : where was this picture found, or bought, orgot hold of ? ....Documents, documents—facts, facts—to satisfy AN OLD DILETTANTE.
1We have another long letter from our venerable correspondent, on his main subject ; which will not suffer injury by giving way for the present to more pressing or more ephemeral interests.]
* Cyzlcus, a town in the Propontis.