De Profundis


De Profundis (2012).

The title is nothing to do with Oscar Wilde’s famous epistle from prison, but then that should be obvious looking at my latest piece of tenebrous artwork. “De Profundis” means “From the depths” which in this case is applied to another piece with a Cthulhu theme. I made a decision earlier this year that my calendar design for 2013 would comprise a collection of all my Cthulhu portraits to date, from The Call of Cthulhu on. I didn’t have 12 pictures, however, so I’m currently making up the numbers between other jobs. This is the first completed piece which steals a background from the illustrations by Alphonse de Neuville and Édouard Riou for Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1871). The voyagers in the Nautilus encountered some fearsome creatures but nothing quite like this. I can’t say at the moment when the calendar will be ready but I’m hoping to have it finished before the end of the month.

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9 thoughts on “De Profundis”

  1. Wow, John that is beautiful. That rivals anything I’ve yet seen of your collaborations with Savoy, at least, to my eyes. Obviously one can see Lovecraftian associations. In reference to the title though, something about the thick and heady atmosphere of your piece reminds me of Thomas de Quincey. In either Confessions… or Suspiria de Profundis, de Quincey muses in one section upon a drug-influenced, dream obsession with various underwater beings, only in his case they were of a reptilian nature and not of mollusk/cephalopod/invertebrate orientation.

  2. Thanks, Wiley, this was only meant to be a quick thing but–as is often the case when you don’t labour a thing–it came out better than I expected. This is another of my attempts to do a less representational Cthulhu figure than you generally see. I always felt that Cthulhu should look less defined and more alien than it’s usually represented. Lovecraft’s characters describe a “squid-dragon” because that’s a human approximation of the creature. Unfortunately many artists seem to show exactly that and nothing more; I’ve veered close to that kind of reduction myself in the past.

    Thanks too for the De Quincy reminder, I have that essay but I’ve not read it for years. There’s further pre-Lovecraft traces in Maldoror with a description of squids flying across the night sky.

  3. I’ll also add that in my opinion the design would look lovely on a black T-shirt if you ever considered this for a Cafe Press project.

  4. I will indeed be making this available on its own. Will try and get that arranged shortly. This picture may be a little dark for a black shirt. Printing on fabric always works best with bold designs.

  5. Gorgeous. By the way, the title comes from Psalm 130: “From the depths, I have cried out to you, O Lord”.

  6. Yes, and “Resurgam” also has Christian associations. Swapping Christ for Cthulhu probably counts as high blasphemy for some.

  7. Blasphemous? It could be quite wholesome, actually. The Abomination calling the Judeo-Christian God from below, asking for mercy ;-)

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