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. (NB. the titles are beneath the images)
‘The city of never’
‘The ultimate god’
‘woods and dark animals’
‘he felt as a morsel’
‘illustrative design of fountain and figures’
‘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 Cthulu. This image was drawn in 1911, whilst ‘Call of Cthulu’ was published in 1928. My friend then informed me that Lovecraft was enormously influenced by Lord Dunsany, whose work was illustrated by Sime. As such, it seems very possible that this is the primary visual influence for Cthulu.
‘painting of waves’
‘the bride of the man horse’
‘the gate of yann’
‘the lean, high house of the knoles’
‘the ominous cough’
‘the silence of ged’
‘we would gallop through Africa’
map of the land of dreams
‘trees and imps’
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.