I had always thought the Sphinx was unique to Egyptian mythology. A quick check of an online encyclopedia taught me that the Sphinx is also featured in Greek, India and early European mythology. This mythological creature appears to have always be depicted with the body of a lion and the head of woman but it was the Europeans who appear to have inspired this rendition of the mythological creature. The Europeans, perhaps the French, were the people who adapted the mythology to include the head of the Sphinx being that of a beautiful woman.
Oliver Herford, as only he can do, takes that a step further giving his Sphinx a very cat-like pose and the face of a stunning woman. The young soldier, who has approached her, looks beseechingly up at her as her front foot looks ready to take a swipe at him.
This interesting, vintage image is copyright free and can be used however you wish in your next creative project.
The author of The Mythological Zoo introduced the children of 1912 to a menagerie full of mythological beasts, heroes and villians. All of them were brought to life by the artist Oliver Herford (1863-1935).
This image is copyright free and in the public domain anywhere that extends copyrights 70 years after death or at least 120 years after publication when the original illustrator is unknown.