The Death of Oedipus (Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, lines 1606-1628)

Engraver William Ward British
After Henry Fuseli Swiss
Publisher John Raphael Smith British

Not on view

Oedipus, blind and exiled from Thebes with two daughters, recognizes divine signs of his imminent death. Fuseli had drawn subjects from Sophocles while in Rome during the 1770s–his knowledge of Greek allowed him to read the plays in the original. After settling in London in 1780, he painted two Oedipus themes in oil and exhibited them at the Royal Academy. This mezzotint reproduces a painting shown in 1784, and its exploration of themes of guilt and retribution anticipate Romanticism. Fuseli admired Michelangelo and borrowed compositional elements from the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

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