Oedipus and the Sphinx by Gustave Moreau

Oedipus and the Sphinx by Gustave Moreau
Oedipus and the Sphinx by Gustave Moreau

The French painter Gustave Moreau is the great artist of symbolist painting. A creator capable of painting images overflowing with aesthetic and decorative effects. He can be seen here or in any of his other works. But besides that, his art is loaded with literature, legends, meanings, and obviously symbols. And obviously, in this field, the world of biblical stories and the most classical mythology became great sources of inspiration for his paintings.


Oedipus and the Sphinx by Gustave Moureau

Let's take, for example, this oil painting of Oedipus and the Sphinx, painted in 1864 and currently in the Metropolitan Museum in New York. We have seen the sphinx, that peculiar being with the body of a lion, the wings of an eagle and the head of a woman, represented throughout the entire History of Art, especially in the Antiquity. Just remember the famous Great Sphinx next to the Pyramids of Egypt. But not only there. There are many representations of this mythological being also in India or in the ancient cultures of the Near East and Central Asia. Thus how on many occasions she appears accompanied by Oedipus, as for example in this pottery from Ancient Greece.

In fact the myth of the Sphinx and Oedipus must be related especially to classical Greek culture. the storyFantastic tells us that it was the Sphinx who helped Oedipus get rid of all his traumas, something that meant killing his father and ending up marrying his mother. This has not only inspired many artists, but has also been a model for psychiatrists and psychoanalysts who still talk about the Oedipus Complex today.

HereMoreauintroduces us to the Sphinx in her most enigmatic and trickster role. And it is that among her attributes was knowing how to handle words at her whim to achieve her goals. So she was at the same time a monster, but also a muse, a being capable of inspiration. And in that attitude the painter shows us. At the very moment when he throws a riddle at Oedipus, and if he solves it he can kill his father, become king of Thebes and marry his mother namedJocasta.

An enigma that Oedipus solved, and that was like a riddle: What animal walks on all fours at dawn, with two in the middle of the day, and when the sun sets it walks on three legs?

Do you know?

The man. As a baby he crawls, as an adult he walks upright, and when he is old he needs a cane

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