Bonaparte Before the Sphinx

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Bonaparte Before the Sphinx
Bonaparte ante la Esfinge, por Jean-Léon Gérôme.jpg
ArtistJean-Léon Gérôme
MediumOil on canvas
Dimensions61.6 cm × 101.9 cm (24.3 in × 40.1 in)
LocationHearst 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.

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]


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

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]


  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.