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.
In the 1940s, Willem de Kooning (1904 – 1997), with his artist friend Arshile Gorky, frequented the Metropolitan Museum to study portraits by 19th-century French artist Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. this seated figure, which belongs to de Kooning’s first series of Women paintings, demonstrates his interest in the human form. Awkwardly posed, the woman’s arms, legs and breasts exist as abstract shapes in a flattened space. Like other Abstract Expressionists, de Kooning was interested in portraying nature as simultaneously creative and destructive. Although the figure is recognizable as a woman, de Kooning arrangements of form, line, and color gives the effect of a body coming together and falling apart.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.