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Welcome to Sexing the Canvas!

Course video 1 of 28

We begin this MOOC by introducing you to some of the theories about gender and sexuality that we will be calling upon throughout this course. We will look at the tradition of the representation of women in art and the operation of the 'male gaze', which renders most female subjects passive in pictures. We will focus, in this unit, on an unusual exception to this tradition, Tiepolo's Banquet of Cleopatra at the National Gallery of Victoria, in which we see Cleopatra depicted as a powerful regent. How does Tiepolo break the rules in this painting, emphasising Cleopatra’s agency? How did Tiepolo’s facility with paint work to produce this gendered narrative? And who exactly was Cleopatra?

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