This statue represents one of the daughters of Niobe as she attempts to escape from the arrows of Apollo and Artemis. The myth, in fact, tells how Niobe, Queen of Thebes, had 14 children, seven boys and seven girls, and for this considered herself to be superior to Leto, who had only been able to bear Zeus two children, Apollo and Artemis. These two undertake to punish Niobe for offending their mother and they kill all Niobe's children with arrows, Apollo killing the males and Artemis the females. This figure is probably a copy from the age of Hadrian which was perhaps part of a group sculpture featuring all the Niobids. Different versions of this group are known, all of which are copies of a group dating from the Hellenistic period, the most complete of which is to be found in the Uffizi Galleries in Florence. This work was found around the middle of the 1500s at Hadrian's Villa near Tivoli during the excavations organised by Cardinal Ippolito d'Este.
Acquired by the Vatican Museums, it was displayed for a long time in the Chiaramonti Museum; the name of this specific iconographic type derives from this location (the Chiaramonti Niobid).