Two Sphinxes with elaborate coiffures, necklaces, diamante earrings and flower garlands crossing their chest, rest on their original pedestals. The fabulously detailed creatures half human half lion are covered with a beautiful saddlecloth adorned with rococo ornaments. The curved carved tail is amazing in its details.
These two sphinxes, in French sphinges, have decorated the gardens of an unknown French chateau. The client was probably a royalist because one of the two sphinxes bears a necklace with a sun as homage to the Sun King. The sphinx is a mythical creature with, as a minimum, the head of a human and the body of a lion.
The Egyptian sphinx is typically shown as a man. In Greek tradition it was a woman, both were thought of as guardians often flanking the entrances to temples. Sphinxes are generally associated with ancient architectural structures such as royal tombs or religious temples.
The Sphinx was first introduced in France from Italy as an ornamental sculpture in the 16th century when king François I, had the steps leading to the Cour des Fontaines at the Château de Fontainebleau adorned with a pair of sphinxes (Lost during the French Revolution) The French Renaissance sculptures were highly Mannerist revivals of ancient Greek and Egyptian sphinges.
The most famous French Sphinges are the two by Houzeau et Lerambert in the Parc de Versailles with the bronze putti by Duval sitting on top, created in 1667-1668. During the 18th century the French-style sphinx became an important almost regular feature of the outdoors decorative sculpture on the steps of 18th-century palaces and in gardens throughout Europe.
This pair of Sphinxes was made in the Alsatian region in Alsatian sandstone. The two have an unprecedented high quality of workmanship and an unsurpassed beauty. They can be compared with the pair of sphinxes now guarding the Jardin de l'Orangerie in Strasbourg. These two sculptures were made around 1745 for the château of the Royal praetor Klinglin at Illkirch-Graffenstaden. In the surroundings of Strasbourg These two were installed in the orangerie in Strasbourg in 1910.