KHNOPFF, Fernand
(b. 1858, Termonde, d. 1921, Bruxelles)

The Sphinx, or The Caresses

Oil on canvas, 51 x 151 cm
Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels

A theme of temptation seems to be the subject of Caresses, in which a semi-nude androgynous figure resists a female-headed leopard. The striking and provocative image suggests the struggle of artistic idealism against sensual temptation.

The many sphinx (a winged monster having a woman's head and a lion's body) figures in Khnopff's work are not allegories; as Mallarmé interprets them, they are "ideas" of the senses.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.