The foundation of his famous work, Ingres laid the prevailing ancient Greek legend of the Sphinx. The Sphinx is a terrible monster with a female head and charms, but at the same time it has a lion's body, a tail of a rattlesnake and huge white wings.
Each traveler who wants to delve into Thebes, this monster concocted a famous riddle, about an animal that can walk on two, three and four legs. Travelers who are not able to guess the truth, the Sphinx monster always devoured.
The ancient Greek hero Oedipus was able to give the correct answer to the riddle of the Sphinx and in response the monster jumped from the top of the mountain and crashed onto the rocks.
The tragic and sad story about the life of Oedipus, telling about his arrival in Thebes, the murder of his own father out of ignorance of his relatives, as well as the hasty marriage of his own mother and the birth of four children in incest, often forced artists to paint pictures about this. Later, Oedipus was expelled by his own children from Thebes.
Working on the composition of his famous painting, Ingres decides to depict the moment of Oedipus's mental duel with the monster, the price of which was Oedipus's life and freedom of the city. The monster raided Thebes, but no one was able to defeat him in a mental battle.
In the right corner of his composition, the artist stirs an amazing woman with a lion's body - the Sphinx, symbolizing her dark monstrous side opposite to good and light. The protagonist of Oedipus, on the contrary, is lit by sunshine.
All the features of his face and body demonstrate a concentration that does not want to retreat before the unflappable Sphinx. He defeats him in a hay bout. Such a lively and bright face of the hero enters into a contrasting struggle with the glass impenetrable appearance of the Sphinx, similar to an antique statue.
On the Threshold of Eternity Vincent Van Gogh