The Zenobia Scandal: A Meditation on Male Jealousy
patricia cronin
zing books, new york, 2013

In 1862, to show monumental marble sculptures in the International Exhibition at London’s Crystal Palace to critical acclaim was not uncommon, unless you were a woman. The Zenobia Scandal: A Meditation on Male Jealousy by Patricia Cronin focuses on the controversy surrounding an over life-sized marble statue titled Zenobia in Chains by American sculptor Harriet Hosmer (1830-1908). The story began when Hosmer submitted her sculptures for the prestigious International Exhibition. Her choice to portray the powerful Queen Zenobia the Ruler of Palmyra (modern day Syria), instead of Cleopatra, who was a popular subject of male artists, was an unusual and important one. But when she received more critical attention than her male counterparts, that’s when all the trouble began. In the words of Hosmer’s colleagues, acquaintances, friends, critics, including Henry James, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and the artist herself, Cronin tells a compelling story about gender based professional jealousy, male competition, friendship, betrayal, creative responses and ultimately perseverance and reward. A timeless theme, if it weren’t for the luscious 19th prose, you’d think you were reading a contemporary narrative.

Zing Books, 2013
132 pp.
Published with Issue #23
Available at