This highly theatrical scene is set amid Roman architecture. In the center, dressed in a red cloak and crowned with laurels, the emperor Julius Caesar welcomes Cleopatra and invites her to ascend to a throne, on which lie a crown and a scepter.
Another woman, her face steeped in anger, descends the steps in order to leave the building. She is Arsinoe, Cleopatra’s sister and rival, recognized as queen of Egypt by the people of Alexandria before being dethroned by Caesar.
Cleopatra, who was of Greek origin, is depicted as a European with blonde hair and a pale complexion. Here, she looks gentle and submissive. The story is emphasized by the color palette: the two leading figures wear brightly colored clothes while Arsinoé is dressed in drab shades.