Elena of Montenegro, Queen of Italy: an educational model of womanhood from Cetinje to Rome

Simonetta Polenghi, Vučina Zorić, Dario De Salvo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The aim of this essay is to explore how the picture of Jelena of Montenegro came to be anicon of ‘Italianness’ as Elena of Savoy. In researching her popularized image, we will use articles and visual sources, mainly consisting of the covers of weekly magazines. Principal among these are the «Corriere della Sera», one of the most important and widely read newspapers of the time, its illustrated weekly magazine, «La Domenica del Corriere» and the illustrated weekly magazines «La Tribuna Illustrata» and «L’Illustrazione Italiana». We will show how her Montenegrin origins originally hindered her acceptance among the Italian aristocracy, but how her personal qualities and adherence to a cultural model she learnt from her family allowed her to be fully accepted and loved by the people. Popular images of Elena tended to focus on her touching children and poor and suffering people. Her maternal and caring attitude overshadowed all her other qualities and skills in the myth of “the good Queen”.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-164
Number of pages36
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Elena of Montenegro
  • Female educational models
  • Montenegro
  • Queen Elena of Savoy
  • Visual history Italy
  • XIXth-XXth Centuries


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