The Way of Silence1900-1903
Oil on canvas
According to Audrey Wagtberg Hansen in her article "Cold Gods and Fatal Women./ The Many Faces of the Sphinx in the 19th Century", Kupka's Way of Silence was "inspired by the poem Dream-land by Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), [where] we see a lone traveller on a seemingly endless road under a starry sky, flanked by two rows of stone sphinxes. A Latin text on the pedestal of the front sphinx, 'QUAD AD CAUSUM SUMUS' (= why are we?), again poses a life-and-death question."
Although Kupka's painting certainly doesn't correspond to Poe's Dream-land (1850) in the particulars of its imagery, its depiction of a pathway through eternity certainly captures the atmosphere of the poem's opening stanza:
BY a route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only,
Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT,
On a black throne reigns upright,
I have reached these lands but newly
From an ultimate dim Thule —
From a wild weird clime that lieth, sublime,
Out of SPACE — out of TIME.