Sphinx des Lebens,

charcoal on paper,



Fidus (Lübeck 1868-1948 Woltersdorf bei Berlin), also known as Hugo Höppener

"Die Sphinx des Lebens" ["The Sphinx of Life"], 

also known as "Zur Sphinx empor" ["Up to the Sphinx"]


charcoal on Vellum paper laid down on cardboard

101,5 x 75 cm

Double signed and dated in charcoal lower right: "Fidus. 91" and "Fidus 1891"

a magnificent large-scale drawing

Exhibition History:

"Alfred Kubin: Confessions of a Tortured Soul," Leopold Museum, Vienna, April 16 - July 24, 2022


Publication History:

Sphinx, XV, January 1893, art supplement after pg. 224 (reproductive engraving, as "Die Sphinx des Lebens").

Sphinx, Zeichnungen von Fidus und Diefenbach (Berlin: C.A. Schweschke und Sohn, 1899), plate 4 (titled "Sphinx des Lebens").  

Janos Frecot, Johann Friedrich Geist, and Diethart Kerbs, Fidus 1868-1949. Zur ästhetischen Praxis bürgerlicher Fluchtbewegungen (München: Rogner & Bernhard, 1972), pg.312, 5.1, 1891/4 (as "Zur Sphinx empor") (without ill.).

Alfred Kubin: Confessions of a Tortured Soul (Vienna: Leopold Museum, 2022).


"The Sphinx, the winged monster with the head of a woman and the body of a lion, sits majestically on the rock at the gates of the city of Thebes. It appears disproportionately large and seductive at the same time; its main characteristic is the lust for murder. Oedipus kneels before her and looks up at her with wide, fearful eyes. Fidus does not at all draw him like a hero who will be the first to solve the riddle of the Sphinx. With him, the Sphinx shines in great mysterious superiority."  B

"From 1891 to 1894, Fidus illustrated for the theosophical magazine Sphinx [edited by the colonial official and theosophist Wilhelm Hübbe Schleiden]. While in Munich, Fidus and his mother had met Hübbe-Schleiden. And in autumn 1891, Fidus and Hübbe-Schleiden move to Berlin-Steglitz and a close collaboration develops. With his magazine, Hübbe-Schleiden created an elaborate, sophisticated publication. In the art portfolios of the Sphinx, Fidus's drawings appear as offprints that make him known. With them, the most productive phase of his work begins."  B


The Daulton Collection