Queen Zenobia Beseeching the Roman Emperor, Aurelian.
Orientalist. Oil on canvas.
Late 18th cent.
A large, imposing work, expertly painted by a master hand. Originally considered to be a work by the Scottish artist, William Allen, the painting was recently reexamined and assigned an earlier attribution. 35” x 39”. (Reframed: 43 ½” x 48”. In very fine condition other than some minor loss. [Ex. Palm Beach estate]
Zenobia (Septimia), or Aramaic, Bat Zabbai, the second wife of Odaenathus. After the murder of her husband and his son, from a previous marriage, she secured the power for herself in the name of her infant son, Vaballathus. Gallienus sent Heraclianus agaist her, but he was defeated, and Zenobia, having secured Syria and devastated Bostra. In A.D. 269, she conquered Egypt, and next year overran Asia Minor, except Bithynia. Aurelian at first acquiesced, granting to Vaballathus the same position as his father, but when in 271, Zenobia, not content with this partial recognition, proclaimed her son Augustus, he marched against her. His general, Probus, was killed, while attempting to reconquer Egypt, but he (Aurelian) reoccupied Asia Minor with little resistance, defeated Zabdas, Zenobia’s general, at Antioch and again at Emesa, and finally captured Palmyra and the queen herself and her sons. Having been exhibited at Aurelian’s triumph, she was granted a pension and a villa at Tibur. Zenobia is praised for her beauty, intelligence and virtue, but was evidently a ruthless woman. She sacrificed to her personal ambition, the fortune of her native city, which Odaenathus had by his loyalty to the Empire preserved. [Oxford Classical Dictionary, pp. 1145-46]