Friday, May 24, 2013

The Model for Pickman's Model?

   I was looking through some art books, and I came across a painting by Francisco Goya (Saturn Devouring His Son) that struck a cord of memory. Something that H.P. Lovecraft had written in his story Pickman's Model about a ghoul crunching on a human body like a stick of Candy. So I dug out Pickman's Model and gave it a reread, and sure enough, not only was the line there that I remembered, but the story even mentions Goya by name. Here's the line:

   "It was a colossal and nameless blasphemy with glaring red eyes, and it held in its bony claws a thing that had been a man, gnawing at the head as a child nibbles at a stick of candy. It's position was kind of a crouch, and as one looked one felt that at any moment it might drop its present prey and seek a juicer morsel."

    I'd say that's a pretty good description of this painting. (Though he appears to have consumed the head and moved on to the arm.) So what do you think? The model for Pickman's model?

4 comments:

Paul R. McNamee said...

If I recall, that might have been the painting they used to intro the episode of "Pickman's Model" on Night Gallery

Charles R. Rutledge said...

As it turns out, Paul, the painting used on Night Gallery was an original done for the show. See the post that follows this one.

The Girl in the Jitterbug Dress said...

I am just rereading Lovecraft as well and was curious about which characters were real, obviously I knew Goya. I was surprised to find Sidney Sime and Clara Ashton Smith were real artists as well. I have taken to writing some ghost stories for compilation and Lovecraft is so inspiring.Usually I write about swing dancing: (girlinthejitterbugdress.com), write ghost stories annually for a contest :)

Charles R. Rutledge said...

Lovecraft liked to insert real events and people into his work. He thought that it gave the stories a certain verisimilitude, and I agree. Clark Ashton Smith was not only a real artist, but a terrific writer of weird fiction as well and a friend and correspondent of Lovecraft's. You should track down some of his stories.Certainly if you're going to write scary stories, Lovecraft is an excellent model.