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A woman wearing a breastplate and helmet over a toga stands to our left on a platform, gesturing with one arm extended to a group of about a dozen soldiers gathered around her in this horizontal painting. The woman has pale white skin and most of the soldiers have ruddy complexions. The woman stands with her body facing us but she turns her head to our right, looking toward but not at the knot of soldiers clustered there. She leans on her right elbow, on our left, resting on the flat top of a broken column, and she holds a scepter in that hand. Her other arm is raised and her fingers are extended except for the index finger and thumb, which touch to make a circle. Her gold helmet is encrusted with gems and a white plume issues from the top. Her red and gold cloak is fastened around her neck and falls open to reveal her armor and sandal-clad feet. A shield rests on the platform near her feet, and other pieces of armor are scattered on the dirt ground near the platform. A young boy with chestnut-brown curls holds her cloak behind her and to our right. In the lower left corner of the painting, one soldier sits on the edge of the platform, and he twists and looks up at the woman. Several soldiers standing in a group to our right carry shields, banners, and halberds, which are tall, ax-like weapons. The men wear helmets and breastplates, and cloaks in canary yellow, crimson red, and ivory white. The man closest to us stands with his back to us, and he looks over his shoulder at the woman. An animal skin wraps around his shoulders and the head of the animal drapes over his head. More soldiers and tents in the middle distance are painted in almost monochromatic tones of peanut brown and taupe. The sky above is blue with a few white clouds, except for a band of soft yellow along the horizon.

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Queen Zenobia Addressing Her Soldiers, 1725/1730, oil on canvas, Samuel H. Kress Collection, 1961.9.42

Look Slowly, Think Artfully

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Join National Gallery of Art educators Julie and Liz for an hour of slow looking, critical thinking, and community-building inspired by the Gallery's first online course, Teaching Critical Thinking through Art. In our webinar, we'll analyze a work of art, share our reflections, and write poetry together.