The Sphinx, a mythical creature-part lion, part woman-grimaces in horror as Oedipus solves her
riddle: "What is that which has one voice and yet becomes four-footed, two-footed, and
three-footed?" Oedipus replies, "Man, for as a babe he is four-footed, as an adult he is
two-footed, and as an old man he gets a third support, a cane," and the Sphinx hurls herself onto
the rocks below, which are strewn with the bones of her victims. Ingres, who frequently repeated
the subjects of his paintings, first depicted this story at the beginning of his career and
returned to it several times, making variations in the composition, such as reversing the direction
in which the figures faced.