The art of Virgil Finlay, 1914–1971


Mrs Amworth.

Another great artist of the macabre and supernatural, Virgil Finlay was the one of the most talented and imaginative illustrators of his generation. Unlike older contemporaries such as Joseph Leyendecker, who became wealthy producing elegant yet often bland advertising art, much of Finlay’s best work was for pulp magazines like Weird Tales and Amazing Stories which paid a pittance and printed his finely-hatched scratchboard drawings on the cheapest paper. The advantages to this work, such as they were, came in the access to a huge and appreciative audience, and the chance to provide the first illustrations for what would turn out to be classic genre stories. Finlay illustrated a number of HP Lovecraft’s tales and received the highest praise from the author in doing so. His illustration for Lovecraft’s The Thing on the Doorstep (below) contains a slight nod to Harry Clarke’s Valdemar picture (see previous post) with its distant, highlighted doorway, a detail that Clarke himself borrowed from the celebrated Las Meninas by Velázquez.

Therionweb has five galleries of Finlay’s pictures and Bud Plant again has a brief biography.


Abercrombie Station.


The Thing on the Doorstep.


Six and Ten.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The illustrators archive

4 thoughts on “The art of Virgil Finlay, 1914–1971”

  1. I am looking for a B&W Finlay portrait of H.P. Lovecraft in which he portrayed Lovecraft in 18th century dress and wig.

    I cannot recall where I saw it. I am 77 and probably saw it 60 years ago or so.

    Thank you

  2. Hi Simone. The best collections of Finlay’s work I’ve seen are those published by Charles Miller in the US in the mid-Nineties. Great reproductions on quality paper.

Comments are closed.