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. (NB. the titles are beneath the images)

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 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.

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’

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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