One of a pair of Egyptian 'sphinx' candlesticks

about 1810
Attributed to William Bullock (English, 1773–1849)


Overall: 50.8 x 38.7 cm (20 x 15 1/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Patinated bronze, marble

On View

Susan Morse Hilles Gallery (Gallery 152)





These candlesticks in the form of sphinxes attributed to William Bullock are engraved with hieroglyphics on the sides, reading: “OEDIPUS EXPOUNDED HER RIDDLE” and “SHE THEN DESTROYED HERSELF.” The third side is engraved in reverse so that it can only be read when reflected in a mirror.


The sides of the candlestick are engraved with fictitious hieroglyphics and the sides of the bases are engraved "OEDIPUS EXPOUNDED HER RIDDLE" & "SHE THEN DESTROYED HERSELF."

The third side of the base is engraved "OEDIPUS EXPOUNDED HER RIDDLE" in reverse so that when reflected in a mirror, it can be read correctly.


About 1810, William Bullock, London. Jeremy Ltd., London; by 2004, sold by Jeremy, Ltd., to Hotspur Ltd., London. By 2009, acquired on the London art market by Horace Wood Brock, New York; 2010, year-end gift of Horace Wood Brock to the MFA. (Accession Date: January 26, 2011)

Credit Line

Gift of Horace Wood Brock