Edithemad’s work-in-progress Cthulhu statuette. Based on the rough sketch that Lovecraft’s limited art skills were capable of, to suggest the basics of the cultists’ alien statuette of Cthulhu…

stat

The statuette, idol, fetish, or whatever it was, had been captured some months before in the wooded swamps south of New Orleans during a raid on a supposed voodoo meeting; and so singular and hideous were the rites connected with it, that the police could not but realise that they had stumbled on a dark cult totally unknown to them, and infinitely more diabolic than even the blackest of the African voodoo circles. Of its origin, apart from the erratic and unbelievable tales extorted from the captured members, absolutely nothing was to be discovered … No recognised school of sculpture had animated this terrible object, yet centuries and even thousands of years seemed recorded in its dim and greenish surface of unplaceable stone. The figure, which was finally passed slowly from man to man for close and careful study, was between seven and eight inches in height, and of exquisitely artistic workmanship. It represented a monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose face was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and fore feet, and long, narrow wings behind. This thing, which seemed instinct with a fearsome and unnatural malignancy, was of a somewhat bloated corpulence, and squatted evilly on a rectangular block or pedestal covered with undecipherable characters. The tips of the wings touched the back edge of the block, the seat occupied the centre, whilst the long, curved claws of the doubled-up, crouching hind legs gripped the front edge and extended a quarter of the way clown toward the bottom of the pedestal. The cephalopod head was bent forward, so that the ends of the facial feelers brushed the backs of huge fore paws which clasped the croucher’s elevated knees. The aspect of the whole was abnormally life-like, and the more subtly fearful because its source was so totally unknown. Its vast, awesome, and incalculable age was unmistakable; yet not one link did it shew with any known type of art belonging to civilisation’s youth – or indeed to any other time. Totally separate and apart, its very material was a mystery; for the soapy, greenish-black stone with its golden or iridescent flecks and striations resembled nothing familiar to geology or mineralogy. The characters along the base were equally baffling; and no member present, despite a representation of half the world’s expert learning in this field, could form the least notion of even their remotest linguistic kinship. They, like the subject and material, belonged to something horribly remote and distinct from mankind as we know it. Something frightfully suggestive of old and unhallowed cycles of life in which our world and our conceptions have no part.

The sketch was made in 1934 for Barlow. Barlow was at that time a sculptor and painter, in addition to his many other talents. According to someone who visited the untouched Lovecraft bedroom shortly after Lovecraft’s death, many of Barlow’s artworks adorned Lovecraft’s tiny bedroom in the late 1930s, along with ancient sculptures from antiquity that Loveman had given him as presents (possibly originally from the Hart Crane collection of such). One then wonders if Barlow ever tried his hand at a sculpture similar to that seen above, based on the sketch? That seems to be implied, in the text below the sketch. If so, the sculpture doesn’t seem to have survived, or it would have been known to Lovecraft fans. Possibly it’s still sitting in a junk shop or curio collector’s cabinet down Mexico City way, unregarded.

Cthulhu_sketch_by_Lovecraft

Where did Barlow’s other sculpture end up? It seems that not a whit of what he made has survived. He wrote to Clark Ashton Smith (16th May 1937) of his…

disgust at the ineffable stupidity of editors and readers [word or line skipped by Barlow or transcriber] think that some of my best recent work is in sculpture: and there I find myself confronted with another blank wall of stupidity. Oh well and oh hell: some one will make a “discovery” [of the sculpture] when I am safely dead or incarcerated…

One would like to think that there’s a crate of it in storage in the basement of a Mexico City museum, perhaps along with the lost H.S. Whitehead letters (which Barlow collected, but which mysteriously vanished).

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