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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

Harriet Hosmer was the leader of a small group of women who studied sculpture in Rome in the 1850s. Her work frequently addresses the theme of strong, independent women who are ultimately punished for seeking a level of power and ambition thought to be inappropriate to their sex. This portrait depicts Zenobia, the queen of Palmyra, who ruled the Syrian city after her husband, Odenathus, died in A.D. 267. Zenobia conquered Egypt and much of Asia Minor before her defeat by the Roman emperor Aurelian in A.D. 272. Portraying the queen at the moment of her capture, Hosmer emphasized Zenobia’s dignity, 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.”


Currently Off View


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


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