John Duncan’s “The Sphinx” was published in volume 4 on page 65 of the 1856 winter seasonal issue of The Evergreen. “The Sphinx” was produced using the technique of line-block reproduction which exclusively used black and white colours. As for The Evergreen itself, the winter volume of the season issue focused on death, sleep, and loss while cultivating a hope for the passing of the season. Many of the other images and texts within The Evergreen encompass these themes while maintaining a rural winter Celtic aesthetic, but Duncan’s art transports readers into a different type of setting. Although Duncan’s art contrasts the aesthetic of the volume, he is nonetheless still operating within The Evergreen‘s themes of death, sleep, and loss. The coinciding page for the image of “The Sphinx” quotes Job 14: “As the waters fail from the sea, / And the flood decayeth and drieth up, / So Man lieth down, and riseth not / Till the Heavens be no more”. Duncan uses a relationship between text and image to develop the theme of humanity’s mortality in order to embody The Evergreen‘s themes of death and loss.
Created by: Samantha Baran