The Sphinx 1867

It is a watercolor on cardboard painted in 1867. There are at least two versions of this painting.
The first, known as The Temple of the goddess Mut in Karnak an oil on canvas measuring 120 x 177 cm. There is no date of its realization. In the lower right corner is the painter’s signature: C. Werner f. This work was auctioned in London by Sotheby’s in Paris in 2007.
The second, which we reproduce, measures 57.15 x 95 cm. In the lower left corner is the painter’s signature: Werner f. 1867. This work was auctioned by Shannon’s in Milford, Connecticut, United States, in 2009.
The title, Sphinx, seems to allude to the fact that the figures hybridize human and feline traits, although the traditional sphinx reserves the head for man and the rest of the body for the beast, exactly the opposite of the sculptures that the painter has immortalized. Note also that Egyptian sphinxes are always male.
We can not say that Werner painted the scene directly from life, although today a group of effigies of the goddess Mut in its original location reminiscent of the painting we review. The temple was populated by hundreds of sculptures; a group of it is exhibited today at the Metropolitan Museum in New York (United States) and others are exhibited at the British Museum (London, England, United Kingdom).
These images show that Mut absorbed the cult of the goddess Sekhmet, which came to be considered another aspect of Mut. To further complicate the matter, the goddesses Sekhmet and Tefnut present the same iconography.

Object Details

The Sphinx 1867

Carl Werner



oil on canvas

22.5 x 37.5 in. (57.2 x 95.2 cm.)

Private Collection