Bonaparte Before the Sphinx

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Bonaparte Before the Sphinx
Bonaparte ante la Esfinge, por Jean-Leon Gerome.jpg
Artist Jean-Léon Gérôme
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions61.6 cm× 101.9 cm(24.3 in× 40.1 in)
Location Hearst Castle, San Simeon, California

Bonaparte Before the Sphinx (French : Bonaparte devant le Sphinx) is an 1868 painting by the French artist Jean-Léon Gérôme. It is also known as Oedipus (Œdipe). It depicts Napoleon Bonaparte during his Egyptian campaign, positioned on horseback in front of the Great Sphinx of Giza, with his army in the background.

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

Jean-Léon Gérôme 19th-century French painter and sculptor

Jean-Léon Gérôme was a French painter and sculptor in the style now known as academicism. The range of his oeuvre included historical painting, Greek mythology, Orientalism, portraits, and other subjects, bringing the academic painting tradition to an artistic climax. He is considered one of the most important painters from this academic period. He was also a teacher with a long list of students.

Napoleon 18th/19th-century French monarch, military and political leader

Napoléon Bonaparte was a French statesman and military leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the French Revolutionary Wars. He was Emperor of the French as Napoleon I from 1804 until 1814 and again briefly in 1815 during the Hundred Days. Napoleon dominated European and global affairs for more than a decade while leading France against a series of coalitions in the Napoleonic Wars. He won most of these wars and the vast majority of his battles, building a large empire that ruled over much of continental Europe before its final collapse in 1815. He is considered one of the greatest commanders in history, and his wars and campaigns are studied at military schools worldwide. Napoleon's political and cultural legacy has endured as one of the most celebrated and controversial leaders in human history.

The painting was presented at the 1868 Salon under the title Œdipe, evoking the myth of Oedipus and the Sphinx. [1] It popularised Napoleon in front of the Sphinx as a subject in art. [2] It is located at the Hearst Castle in California. [3]

Salon (Paris) art exhibition periodically held in Paris from 1667 to 1890

The Salon, or rarely Paris Salon, beginning in 1667 was the official art exhibition of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Between 1748 and 1890 it was arguably the greatest annual or biennial art event in the Western world. At the 1761 Salon, thirty-three painters, nine sculptors, and eleven engravers contributed. From 1881 onward, it has been managed by the Société des Artistes Français.

Oedipus mythological king of Thebes

Oedipus was a mythical Greek king of Thebes. A tragic hero in Greek mythology, Oedipus accidentally fulfilled a prophecy that he would end up killing his father and marrying his mother, thereby bringing disaster to his city and family.

Sphinx mythological creature

A sphinx is a mythical creature with the head of a human and the body of a lion.


The New York Times wrote from the Paris Salon that in this painting, Gérôme

<i>The New York Times</i> Daily broadsheet newspaper based in New York City

The New York Times is an American newspaper based in New York City with worldwide influence and readership. Founded in 1851, the paper has won 125 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other newspaper. The Times is ranked 17th in the world by circulation and 2nd in the U.S.

recalls the finest of his grand series of historical studies. The young Corsican, seated on his horse, is gazing in meditation upon the enormous enigmatic face of stone, that strange memorial of titanic ambitions, of forgotten sovereigns, of a vanished race. ... The master has kept out all distracting details; even those I have mentioned are felt rather than observed, not even the Pyramids are shown – only the cloudless sky, the smooth sand, from whose drifts the gigantic visage rears itself and the solitary, self-communing man. [4]

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  1. Huguenaud, Karine (December 2010). "Oedipe" (in French). Fondation Napoléon . Retrieved 2016-06-15.
  2. Book of the Sphinx. 2004. p. 64. ISBN   0-8032-3956-4.
  3. "Bonaparte Before the Sphinx". State of California. Retrieved 2016-06-15.
  4. "Pictures for the Salon". The New York Times . 1886-04-24. Retrieved 2016-06-15.