godsandheroes3The third in an image series highlighting the Portland Art Museum exhibition: Gods And Heroes: Masterpieces from the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris.

William-Adolphe Bouguereau (French, 1825-1905)

Zenobia Discovered by Shepherds on the Banks of the Araxes | Detail | 1850 | Oil on canvas

This was the final painting Bouguereau submitted for the Prix de Rome competition of 1850. The subject was taken from the Annals of the Roman historian Tacitus. He tells of Zenobia, the pregnant wife of a king of Armenia, who is forced to flee with her husband after he is defeated in war. Fearing that she would be captured and tortured, the king decides to kill Zenobia. He stabs her and flings her body into the river, but she survives. Some shepherds find her and tend to her wounds, as Bouguereau depicts. (Excerpt from Portland Art Museum exhibition description)