|Abstract||This thesis examined the work of the seventeenth-century Italian artist Guido Cagnacci with particular regard to his paintings of Cleopatra VII, the ancient Egyptian queen. He returned to the subject several times across his career, providing a useful critical lens for assessing the evolution of his artistic approach. Cagnacci often imitated the style of more popular artists, but at the end of his life he created two of the most strikingly original depictions of Cleopatra of the seventeenth century. This thesis proposed that the late shift in his approach to style and iconography was a reflection of his environment. After moving from Venice to Vienna, where he worked at the court of the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I, Cagnacci was exposed to new artistic influences and a broader awareness of the political roles and authority of women. He combined Italian style with his new consciousness of Dutch and Flemish art to create two late depictions of the Egyptian queen that restore her dignity and reinterpret her suicide as an expression of power. I first considered Cleopatra as both a historical and legendary figure, exploring the verbal and visual manipulations of her narrative across the centuries. Then I engaged in a comparative analysis of four paintings of Cleopatra by Guido Cagnacci. Lastly, I investigated the emperor's court in Vienna, seeking to understand how Cagnacci's context could have prompted such an innovation interpretation of Cleopatra.