Wednesday, January 11, 2017

From a Moorish fountain postcard
to Clark Ashton Smith's sculptures

This old postcard had been sitting toward the top of my to-blog pile for a couple weeks, but I kept skipping it in favor of other posts. Not because I don't like it, but because I couldn't quite formulate what I wanted to write about it.

I just like it. It's creepy. It's cool.

Printed on the back of the postcard, in Italian, is "Antica Fontana nella Piazza di Ravello." And someone else, long ago, added this, in cursive: "Moorish fountain, Ravello, Italy."

Ravello is a small coastal town in southwestern Italy. Nine centuries ago, it was packed with about 25,000 residents. Today, it boasts only about 10 percent of that total — about 2,500 inhabitants, many whose well being is supported by a robust tourist economy.

This is truly a postcard image that needs to be clicked on, so you can see the magnified view. In addition to the amazing skeletal tree in the background, you can examine, in detail, the woman leaning quietly beside the fountain, nearly blending into it; the two stone animals sitting atop spouts; the construction of the fountain itself; and, on the far side, the hunched-over woman carrying a basket or basin on her back.

Of all the shadows and oddities on this postcard, though, it's those animals that intrigue me the most. They're an eerie combination of dog, monkey and human. Unearthly, really. I've decided that they remind me of the sculptures created by Clark Ashton Smith (1893-1961).

Smith was best-known for his weird short stories and poems. But he was also a prolific sculptor and painter. And some of his creations were photographed to create the dust jackets for his works.

For example...

Lost Worlds (Arkham House, 1944)

The Abominations of Yondo (Arkham House, 1960)

The Fantastic Art of Clark Ashton Smith(1973)

Sweet Dreams!

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