Pickman's Model, a July 28,1934 drawing of a ghoul by Lovecraft, himself. There are two ghoul drawings done by Lovecraft that I know of. The first is dated one month earlier, June 21, 1934 (below). Both feature a ghoul in a graveyard with a Boxer-like underbite and a small tail. Interestingly, neither of these features are mentioned in Lovecraft's descriptions of a ghoul. The ghoul in the earlier drawing features some sort of skin texture, which could be a lumps or fur- possibly both.
Now, I've already covered my interpretation of the Lovecraftian ghoul in a previous blog post, Ghastly Ghouly : H.P. Lovecraft's Ghouls and Ghasts
, so this post is more about a fun detail in the second drawing: the tombstone. Unfortunately, I cannot find a higher-res version of this drawing online, but I believe it comes from a publication of Lovecraft's letters, so I may have to track that down. The tombstone in the lower right features a winged cherub head and an inscription.
Now, it's a bit hard to make out, but it reads: SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF. Now, this inscription is hardly unique and neither is the winged cherub head nor even the shouldered shape of the tombstone. All three together IS, however, notable, and I hope to explain why.
|H.P. Lovecraft in St. John's Cemetery.|
Here is a photo of ol'Howard Phillips himself, photographed on a stroll through the St. John's Cemetery at the Cathedral of St. John, in Providence, Rhode Island- not far from where he lived at the time. It's a small cemetery, with the path cutting in from Benefit Street (behind Lovecraft in the photo) and going down a slope towards North Main Street and the cathedral.
|A view of the cemetery, looking westward, toward North Main Street.|
Okay, now bear with me. See where Lovecraft is standing? Well, of course you do, but let me further illustrate my point by doing something I haven't done in a long, long time: create a moving gif! Behold!
Pretty neat, eh? EH? Okay, so it doesn't really tell you much except that I was there, trying to match up my shot with a different type of lens and it only kinda sorta worked. So, if we start from where he was standing and pull back a bit, we see a set of tombstones on the left, which Lovecraft would have been able to see on his walks through the cemetery.
Well, okay, he would have seen them on his walk back up the hill towards Benefit Street. What we're interested here is the tombstone on the right: the grave of one Mrs. Deborah Checkley Paget
, born 1718, died 15 April 1793, but as far as I know, that's not important.
What is important are the inscription and engraving at the top. Can't make it out? ENHANCE!
That's right, folks. Y'all saw where this was going. It's the tombstone from the drawing....at least that's my theory. We've looked around, and there was no other combination of a shouldered marker, winged cherub, and Sacred to the Memory of inscription in the cemetery. The cemetery in the drawings includes lawn crypts and what looks like a distant mausoleum, so it certainly isn't supposed to be the St. John's Cemetery, but that's okay. What does this all mean? Ehhhhh probably not much except that Lovecraft would have seen this grave on his walks and maybe he just remembered it for his drawing. STILL, I find it kind of neat.
While I've got you here in the cemetery, I may as well show you something else, so sit yerself right back down and grab a nice cold Clamato and some year-old Toffifay I bought in bulk.
The One-Winged Angel
So I illustrated a Lovecraftian drink recipe book, Lovecraft Cocktails- available in fine book stores everywhere!
- and on one of the pages I decided I decorate it all pretty with the image of our dear Mrs. Paget's tombstone. Now, close by the Paget grave was a small eroded statuette of an angel and an urn for flowers. From the photos I took in July of 2019, I thought she only had one wing (upper right), so I thought, "Oh, that's neat. I shall depict my recently departed friend, Leslie, as this one-winged angel. Aren't I clever?" Well, a return trip to the spot in 2021 revealed that the angel did, in fact, have two wings, they were just angled off to one side, for some reason (lower right).
Why are the wings cocked to one side like that, though? Maybe there was more to the grave that is now gone. I still like the image of the one-winged angel well enough, even if it was erroneously inspired.