The Hound of Heaven by RH Ives Gammell


A Pictorial Sequence by RH Ives Gammell Based on
The Hound of Heaven (1956):
left: Panel II—I Fled Him, Down The Nights and Down The Days.
right: Panel XI—Would Clash It To.

I mentioned Francis Thompson’s poem The Hound of Heaven in the Stella Langdale post a couple of days ago. There don’t appear to be any examples of those pictures online but there are a few samples of RH Ives Gammell‘s remarkable paintings based on the same work which Claire alerted me to last month. Gammell (1893–1981) was an American realist with a forthright attitude that set him against Modernist and later art trends yet he was still able to incorporate a more contemporary approach to composition in these unique works. Too often pitching yourself against the present results in the kind of reactionary posturing one sees at the Art Renewal Center where they wish they could turn the clock back to a time before Picasso. Gammell was smarter than that and his Thompson paintings are a striking series of Tarot-like depictions of Christian mysticism.

Once again I have to make the complaint that there aren’t many good reproductions of these works online at the moment; a complete set of the pictures would be a start. The paintings themselves can be seen at the Maryhill Museum of Art, Goldendale, Washington, USA.

RH Ives Gammell by Elizabeth Ives Hunter
Transcending Vision; details of a 2001 exhibition

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The fantastic art archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
The art of Stella Langdale, 1880–1976

3 thoughts on “The Hound of Heaven by RH Ives Gammell”

  1. Intriguing to say to the very least. The works shown in the article by Elizabeth Ives Hunter remind me of these strange ‘living’ still-life pictures shown during the mission briefings in the first few Thief games. The more recent game Bio Shock has much grandiose art and architecture in this vein haunting its crumbling, dystopian setting. In a sense its kind of distressing that games have become so artistic and real; it ensures children and even adults in wealthier countries will spend less and less time outside, and more time in a Tetsuo: Iron man – like setting. On the other hand, its kind of nice since most new cinema is utter shite.

    I definitely agree with the comment of them being Tarot-like. I am not sure how much their outlooks coincided or clashed, but Gammell’s imagery reminds me quite a bit of that of Crowley’s Thoth Tarot.

  2. I don’t look at games much any more although I usually enjoy their eye candy.

    One of those essays mentions Gammell being influenced by Jung’s theories so he was evidently more concerned with deeper symbolism than most Christian painters. But then I think that shows in the compositions, they’re more than mere illustrations.

    I love Frieda Harris’s Tarot designs, especially the way they pushed the Tarot towards Modernism. From what I’ve seen of contemporary Tarot art, that still seems to be an unexplored path.

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