Sidney Sime – the Victorian master of fantasy art

Sidney Sime (1867-1941) was a Mancunian, late-Victorian artist whose work often conflated biting satire with otherworldly fantasy. He’s without doubt one of my all time favourite artists, and easily one of the greatest fantasy illustrators of all time – few others even come close. Sime rose to prominence in 1904, when he was approached by canonical fantasy author Lord Dunsany (best known for The King of Elfland’s Daughter, 1924) who asked him to illustrate his very first novel. Below is a small selection of his work (mainly monochrome with some colour interspersed) which I believe to be among his best.

 

sime-the-city-of-never
The city of never

The Fountain
The fountain

sidney sime - the ultimategod.jpg
the ultimate god

Woods and Dark Animals
woods and dark animals

sime - he felt as a morsel.jpg
he felt as a morsel

Illustrative Design of Fountain and Figures
illustrative design of fountain and figures

sime - it.jpg
IT – This is an interesting one. I have a friend who is an H. P. Lovecraft scholar and I showed him this image as I thought it seemed similar to Lovecraft’s infamous Cthulhu. This image was drawn in 1911, whilst ‘Call of Cthulhu’ was published in 1928. My friend (Val) informed me that Lovecraft was enormously influenced by Lord Dunsany, whose work was illustrated by Sime. It thus seems very plausible that this image could be the primary visual influence for the infamous Cthulhu!

sime - kai.jpg
kai

Painting of Waves
painting of waves

sime - raimer cram.jpg
raimer cram

sime - the bride of the man horse.jpg
the bride of the man horse

sime - the fortress.jpg
the fortress

sime - the gate of yann.jpg
the gate of yann
sime - the lean, high house of the knoles.jpg
the lean, high house of the knoles

the ominous cough

sime - the silence of ged.jpg
the silence of ged

sime - we would gallop through africa.jpg
we would gallop through africa

bookwonder gibbelins.jpg
bookwonder gibbelins

tom-o-the-roads

a map of the land of dreams

trees and imps

5806996637_9a812f0c3f_b.jpg
And finally, my personal favourite, which is untitled but was the cover art for Lord Dunsany’s aforementioned ‘The King of Elfland’s Daughter’.

***

NB: images sourced from artuk.org and monsterbrains.blogspot.com.

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