1926 Pickman's Model

Famous Fantastic Mysteries 1951.12, Hannes Bok
Written 1926.09, published in Weird Tales 1927.10, 1936.11.

Opening Statement:
     You needn’t think I’m crazy, Eliot—plenty of others have queerer prejudices than this.
Brown Jenkin's Summary:
     The narrator visits Pickman's private art studio, and after hearing gunshots, realizes that Pickman's monstrous paintings are not as fantastical as they first appear.
     The narrator begins to describe why he had recently become disenchanted with Richard Upton Pickman’s artwork, despite his former attraction to its dark themes. Pickman had recently disappeared, but previously, the narrator had become Pickman’s confidante, and Pickman had told him of his secret studio in a historic cellar in a more questionable part of town. Accompanying Pickman to his hidden studio, he sees horrible paintings featuring rubbery, canine figures in the foreground, seemingly related in some way to humankind. One canine changeling youngster is seen to be growing up with a human family, with the child having a resemblance to Pickman himself. Another set of paintings shows the dog-creatures attacking humans in modern times (subways, modern cemeterys…).
     Passing by a covered underground well, Pickman shows the narrator his inner studio, which reveals a work portraying a red-eyed, dog-faced figure holding the half-chewed remains of a man in its claw. Pickman suddenly becomes alerted to some scrabbling sounds and draws his pistol. Behind a closed door, Pickman shoots at something, which he later claims are rats. Afterwards, the narrator finds a discarded photograph from Pickman’s studio which reveals its inhuman subject as Pickman’s real-life art model. 
Weird Tales 1927.10
Essential Saltes:
     There was something very disturbing about the nauseous sketches and half-finished monstrosities that leered around from every side of the room, and when Pickman suddenly unveiled a huge canvas on the side away from the light I could not for my life keep back a loud scream—the second I had emitted that night. It echoed and echoed through the dim vaultings of that ancient and nitrous cellar, and I had to choke back a flood of reaction that threatened to burst out as hysterical laughter. Merciful Creator! Eliot, but I don’t know how much was real and how much was feverish fancy. It doesn’t seem to me that earth can hold a dream like that! 
* * * * * 
     It was a colossal and nameless blasphemy with glaring red eyes, and it held in bony claws a thing that had been a man, gnawing at the head as a child nibbles at a stick of candy. Its position was a kind of crouch, and as one looked one felt that at any moment it might drop its present prey and seek a juicier morsel. But damn it all, it wasn’t even the fiendish subject that made it such an immortal fountain-head of all panic—not that, nor the dog face with its pointed ears, bloodshot eyes, flat nose, and drooling lips. It wasn’t the scaly claws nor the mould-caked body nor the half-hooved feet—none of these, though any one of them might well have driven an excitable man to madness. 
     It was the technique, Eliot—the cursed, the impious, the unnatural technique! As I am a living being, I never elsewhere saw the actual breath of life so fused into a canvas. The monster was there—it glared and gnawed and gnawed and glared—and I knew that only a suspension of Nature’s laws could ever let a man paint a thing like that without a model—without some glimpse of the nether world which no mortal unsold to the Fiend has ever had.
  • 1st Richard Upton Pickman, ghouls. Pickman returns in "The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath".
  • Northern Boston.
  • Mentions artists Henry Fuseli, Gustav DorĂ©, Sidney H. Syme, Anthony Angarola, Goya (HPL was also fan of Aubrey Beardsley, John Martin, Felicien Rops, Clark Ashton Smith).
  • The picture may have been inspired by Goya's famous painting (at bottom).

The Horrible Conclusion:
     Well—that paper wasn’t a photograph of any background, after all. What it shewed was simply the monstrous being he was painting on that awful canvas. It was the model he was using—and its background was merely the wall of the cellar studio in minute detail. But by God, Eliot, it was a photograph from life.
Read it here.

Follow'd by "The Strange High House in the Mist"
It's highly possible that this story might have been informed by
one of Goya's famous "black paintings":
"Saturn Devouring His Son" (1819-23)