Providence Public Library, Art Dept., in 1926. Picture: Collection of Providence Public Library.
“[we live in an age when] a publick library might just as well look like a smallpox hospital as like a library” (Lovecraft decrying the utilitarian trend in modern architecture, Selected Letters IV, p.211)
“I used to be a water-colour fiend, & some day I may paint a picture or two for your amusement (& my own), for I still possess the painting materials that gave me so much harmless pleasure in happier days. I used to delight in marine subjects with the brush, just as with the pen I chose landscapes.” (Letter to Kleiner, 2nd March 1916)
A letter from Lovecraft to Bernard Austin Dwyer, 3rd March 1927, suggests this “water-colour fiend” period was about 1900-1901, and may even have been inspired by the new Art Dept. at the Public Library, which had opened March 1900. The talent for drawing was, however, quite lacking, as Lovecraft explained in another letter…
“My mother is a landscape painter of no little skill, whilst my eldest aunt is still more expert in this direction, having had canvases hung in exhibition at the Providence Art Club — yet despite their genius, I could not draw anything better than the junk you have so often beheld in my letters.”