Gustave Moreau, Oedipus and the Sphinx, 1864

Gustave Moreau, Oedipus and the Sphinx, 1864
Gustave Moreau, Oedipus and the Sphinx, 1864, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, New York
Gustave Moreau, born on April 6, 1826, in Paris, France. Moreau was a great admirer of the Renaissance artists, but not without his own flare. A deeply religious, although non practicing man, Gustave thought that art should portray not necessarily the reality, but more a spirit, a soul, and the imagination of the world. Art is supposed to transform the viewers into another dimension, another, more mysterious world; it is to inspire imagination, not necessarily a thought. Which brings us to this painting, Oedipus and the Sphinx, painted in 1864, which depicts the meeting between Oedipus, on his way to Delphi, and the Sphinx. As the myth goes, while traveling between Thebes and Delphi, Oedipus encounters the Sphinx, who asks Oedipus a riddle which he must answer in order to pass, and if the answer is incorrect, it is punishable by death. The riddle infamously goes as such, “What walks on four feet in the morning, two in the afternoon and three at night?” Oedipus answers correctly, “Man: as an infant, he crawls on all fours; as an adult, he walks on two legs and; in old age, he uses a walking stick”. Upon hearing the right answer, the Sphinx kills herself by throwing herself into the sea. Gustave Moreau, Oedipus and the Sphinx, 1864, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, New York
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