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Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra

White marble bust of a woman with shoulder-length wavy hair wearing a crown and robes.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • White marble bust of a woman with shoulder-length wavy hair wearing a crown and robes.


modeled c. 1859; carved after 1859


Harriet Hosmer
American, 1830–1908

About this artwork

Zenobia was queen of the Syrian city of Palmyra and ruled it after her husband’s death in the third century. Harriet Hosmer portrayed Zenobia at the moment of her capture and defeat by the Roman emperor Aurelian in 272 CE. Rather than depict a scene of heightened drama, the sculp-tor opted for a quieter sense of grandeur, remarking, “I have tried to make her too proud to exhibit passion or emotion of any kind; not subdued, though a prisoner; but calm, grand, and strong within herself.”

Hosmer was the leader of a group of women sculptors in Rome beginning in the 1850s. Many of her works feature strong, independent women drawn from history or literature.


On View, Gallery 171


Arts of the Americas


Harriet Hosmer (Sculptor)


Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra


United States (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.





Inscribed on the back: "HARRIET HOSMER / FECIT ROMAE"


86.4 × 57.2 × 31.8 cm (34 × 22 1/2 × 12 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Purchased with funds provided by the Antiquarian Society

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

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Extended information about this artwork

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