Friday, 5 September 2014

He luuuuurved his mother

(As Tom Lehrer said)

In honor of my story Three Legs in the Evening appearing in The Sexy Librarian's Big Book of Erotica, I thought I'd post some Oedipus art. Now there are in fact quite a few classic paintings out there which show Oedipus as he features in my tale, blind and disgraced and cast down from the throne, but those aren't terribly cheerful or sexy. I thought I'd concentrate on the Sphinx bit of the story today. Because those pictures are distinctly and amusingly pervy.

Where are her feet?
The picture above is Oedipus and the Sphinx by Gustave Moreau (1864). It wasn't his only shot at the subject - here's Oedipus the Wanderer (1888):

It's worth noting, I think, the marked beauty of the protagonists in both pictures. And the sphinx's fine boobs.

Boobs are important to many artists ... and their clients.

 Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres painted several versions of Oedipus and the Sphinx over the years - and in each one Oedipus is eye-to-eye with an outstandingly perky pair of knockers.

1864 - Note that her face is almost totally in shadow. Not that he's looking at her face anyway.

The sphinx,as a female monster, tends to be highly sexualised in western art. Lust and death in one bestial, mysterious package.

(I can't find the artist, but it would appear to be another symbolist.)
The Kiss of the Sphinx (1895) by Franz Stuck
This next painting has a bare-breasted sphinx too ... but to be honest I'd guess the artist way preferred painting blokes:

Oedipus and the Sphinx (1808) by François-Xavier Fabre

This is all despite the fact that the ancient Greeks didn't seem to think that a sphinx ought to have breasts at all:

And to be fair, the odd Victorian/Edwardian artist did take their cue from that:

The Caress or The Sphinx by Fernand Khnopff (1896)
The results are actually a bit disturbing - deprived of human mammaries, the sphinx looks more like a mutated animal and less like a respectable monster. This one is just plain freaky:

The Sphinx (1907) by Georg von Rosen
The sphinx in my story Three Legs in the Evening is a lot bigger than most of the depictions here. In fact by sheer luck I have found the perfect likeness to the picture in my head and my text :-)

And since you've made it this far I will reward you with a picture of Oedipus' mother/wife: Jocasta (1913) by Harold Speed.

Do you think she's just heard some bad news?


Jeremy Edwards said...

New riddle: "What has scaly pecs in antiquity, boobs in the neoclassical era, and a full-length leopard coat at the turn of the century?"

Jo said...

Hahaha, perfect stance and expression! Poor Jocasta.

Jeremy, that's an excellent riddle :) What has it got in its leopard skin pocketses?