At mid-career, Gustave Moreau (French, 1826-1897), made his mark with this painting, Oedipus and the Sphinx, at the Salon of 1864. It represents the Greek hero Oedipus confronting the Sphinx outside of Thebes: he must solve her riddle to save his life and those of the besieged Thebans. Remains of those victims who’ve failed the test are seen in the paintings bottom right corner.
Moreau’s mythological theme and archaizing style reflect his admiration for Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres‘s 1808 version of the same subject and for the work of the early Renaissance painter Andrea Mantegna. In emulation these exemplars, Moreau diverged from the Realist sensibilities shaping French art in the 1860s.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum Of Art in NYC.