The late 19th century little magazine, “The Pageant” showcases a variety of literature and Art emphasizing beauty and aesthetics with a heavy focus on “mythology, fairytales, pre-Raphaelitism and naturalism” (King, 2019) . “The Sphinx”, by Gustuve Moreau (1864) is an art piece found in the second volume of The Pageant, which consists of both, mythical and fairytale elements. Hazelwood Shanon – the editor of the volume- asked permission to reproduce existing prints from a collector from Paris by the name of MR.L.Leadre, who held the copyrights of the prints (King, 2019). Hence, the artwork is a reproduction of the prints of the original oil painting done by Gustae Moreau in 1864. Although, originally a coloured painting, “The Sphinx” appears as a half tone, is found on pages 13 and 14 in the second volume of The Pageant.
The immediate reaction that this artwork provokes is a sense of intimacy and mystery. The centralized female figure consists of inhumane qualities which draws the viewers closer to the image. Her upper body- mostly head and bare chest- showcases a fragile human female, although her back consists of bird-like wings and her bottom seems to be of a dog or wolf. The intriguing imagery suggests a sense of fantasy and mythical aspects in the artwork. Also, the male figure is holding a staff, giving the male figure a sort of “Godly” quality, again an element of mythical creature. Moreover, the creature’s body is clinging on the leaned back male figure, hence the position of the figures promote a feeling of unity, the intertwined bodies evoke a sense of harmony. Both the figures are deeply glaring into each other’s eyes, suggesting a level of intimacy, deepening the harmony. Moreau’s of these mythical creatures in The Sphinx showcase an intimate moment between two odd but united figures, producing a moment of closeness in a fantasy world .
King, Frederick. “Critical Introduction to The Pageant Volume 2, 1897,” Pageant Digital Edition, Yellow Nineties 2.0 , edited by Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2019. http://1890s.ca/pageantv2_critical_introduction/