Enigma

In “Pickman’s Model”, author H. P. Lovecraft praises Doré:

“You know, it takes profound art and profound insight into Nature to turn out stuff like Pickman’s. Any magazine-cover hack can splash paint around wildly and call it a nightmare or a Witches’ Sabbath or a portrait of the devil, but only a great painter can make such a thing really scare or ring true. That’s because only a real artist knows the actual anatomy of the terrible or the physiology of fear—the exact sort of lines and proportions that connect up with latent instincts or hereditary memories of fright, and the proper colour contrasts and lighting effects to stir the dormant sense of strangeness. I don’t have to tell you why a Fuseli really brings a shiver while a cheap ghost-story frontispiece merely makes us laugh. There’s something those fellows catch—beyond life—that they’re able to make us catch for a second. Doré had it. Sime has it. Angarola of Chicago has it. And Pickman had it as no man ever had it before or—I hope to Heaven—ever will again.”

You could say that Lovecraft was just using the name for effect, but in a letter to Rheinhart Kleiner, 16 November 1916, he says:

“I began to have nightmares of the most hideous description, peopled with things which I called night-gaunts—a compound word of my own coinage. I used to draw them after waking (perhaps the idea of these figures came from an edition de luxe of Paradise Lost with illustrations by Doré, which I discovered one day in the east parlour).”

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Gustave Doré was a French artist, engraver, illustrator and sculptor and reigned over a menacing, nightmarish purgatory swarming with grotesque winged creatures, bodies writhing in agony and demonic entities. Doré was best known for his dramatic, black and white wood-engraved illustrations of Dante’s “Inferno,” Cervantes’ “Don Quixote,” Poe’s “The Raven” and the Bible. A child prodigy whose artistic talent emerged at age 5, he became France’s highest-paid illustrator by age 16. The most popular illustrator of all time, Doré profoundly influenced Van Gogh and the Symbolists.