Oedipus and the Sphinx

Gustave Moreau French

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 800

The legendary Greek prince Oedipus confronts the malevolent Sphinx, who torments travelers with a riddle: What creature walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon, and three legs in the evening? Remains of victims who answered incorrectly litter the foreground. (The solution is the human, who crawls as a baby, strides upright in maturity, and uses a cane in old age.) Moreau made his mark with this painting at the Paris Salon of 1864. Despite the growing prominence of depictions of everyday life, he portrayed biblical, mythological, and imagined stories. His otherworldly imagery inspired many younger artists and writers, including Odilon Redon and Oscar Wilde.

#6002. Oedipus and the Sphinx



  1. 6002. Oedipus and the Sphinx
  2. 911. Kids: Oedipus and the Sphinx, Part 1
  3. 970. Kids: Oedipus and the Sphinx, Part 2
Oedipus and the Sphinx, Gustave Moreau (French, Paris 1826–1898 Paris), Oil on canvas

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