Most definitely female
A 19th-century example of the "French sphinx" arrogantly sits guard, reinterpreting antiquity in the Parc de Bagatelle, Paris. The fabulous mythical creature was first introduced in France from Italy as an ornamental sculpture in the 16th century when king and mécène, François I, had the steps leading to the Cour des Fontaines from the Château de Fontainebleau adorned with a pair of sphinxes or sphinges. (They unfortunately did not survive the French Revolution, however there are others in the château's garden.) The French Renaissance sculptures were highly Mannerist revivals of ancient Greek and Egyptian sphinges. They often had elaborate coiffures, and were either clothed or unclothed with luxuriant accoutrements and pearls, like the sphinx we caught from behind in Nancy, below. During the 18th and 19th centuries the French-style sphinx became an important decorative piece in royal palaces and gardens throughout Europe.
Sphinx or sphinge? The human part of the Egyptian sphinx was typically masculine, while the Greek sphinx was feminine; the French therefore use sphinge to indicate a female sphinx.
©2012 P.B. Lecron