Depicted here is a wager about which one could host the more lavish banquet. With great panache, the wily Cleopatra dissolves one of her matchless pearls in vinegar and is immediated hailed as the victor by Antony's coconsul, Lucius Plancus. In so doing she loses an earing, but in turn captures Antony.
This version most closely relates to an example now in the Musée Cognacq-Jay, Paris, which was original given by Tiepolo to Francesco Algarotti. Algarotti was in the service of August III as an advisor for the Royal Collections. On 31 January 1744, he wrote to Count von Brühl regarding the commission of this subject. This commission now hangs in the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
See Keith Christiansen, ed. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1996, p. 150, no. 19, fig. 52 for a complete discussion on this work.