Francis Bacon’s Oedipus and the Sphinx after Ingres is a contemporary interpretation of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’ romantic painting. The artwork features an injured athlete in the foreground and Eumenides hanging in the dark exterior space, while Oedipus explains the riddle of the Sphinx. The use of profile for both Oedipus and the Sphinx recalls ancient Greek vases and classical friezes.
Bacon’s interpretation differs from Ingres’ version by depicting a sphinx that resembles a sculpture rather than a mythical beast. This alteration is one way Bacon parodies Ingres’ original work. Moreover, Bacon exemplifies his artistic expression through distorted facial features, adding to his trademark style.
The painting was originally a student work by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, which he created shortly after winning admission to the French Academy in Rome. As for Francis Bacon’s version, it was once owned by Edgar Degas and is now part of a collection at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City.
In summary, Francis Bacon’s Oedipus and the Sphinx after Ingres is an example of contemporary art inspired by classical works of art. Bacon has spun this piece on its head with distorted features that set it apart from its original counterpart while retaining much of its themes seen through historical artistic examples prevalent during Greco-Roman times such as using profile figures shown particularly well with both images’ titular characters depicted in profiles making parallels between antiquity’s classical art forms with present-day impressionistic works underlining how artists can communicate their ideas visually across generations.