This figure of Cleopatra is after the Antique, first recorded on 2 February 1512 as having recently been acquired by the Pope (Julius II) from Angelo Maffei and taken to the Belvedere. Later that year it was mounted on a carved marble sarcophagus and installed as a fountain in a corner of the statue court. In 1797, the statue was ceded to the French under the Treaty of Tolentino. It reached Paris in the triumphal procession of July 1798 and was displayed in the Musée Central des Arts from 1800 to 1815, when it was returned to Rome. The Cleopatra was greatly admired and was both written about and copied in various media throughout the subsequent centuries. The Vatican Cleopatra is catalogued in Helbig as a copy of the late Hadrianic (or early Antonine) period of a masterpiece of the Pergamene school dating from the second century B.C., and originating in the workshop of Dionysos.
See also: Haskell and Penny, Taste and the Antique, Yale 1981.