Stacy Tolman of Providence (1860-1935):

Stacy-Tolman-ProvidencePortrait of Tolman.

From 1889 Tolman was a teacher at the Rhode Island School of Design, head of the dept. of drawing and painting there until 1905, thereafter teaching the anatomy class. He had his studio in the Fleur de Lys building in Providence from 1895.

The Etcher (c.1887-90), Stacy Tolman of Providence. The man depicted is the printmaker William Henry Warren Bicknell, friend and fellow student:

Stacy Tolman

The Musicale (c.1887), Stacy Tolman of Providence:

Stacy Tolman-334277

Yard View, Providence (undated), Stacy Tolman of Providence:

Stacy Tolman of Providence

The Interlude (1890), Stacy Tolman of Providence:


This evokes several Lovecraft stories such as “The Terrible Old Man”, “The Music of Erich Zann”, and “Hypnos”.

His late work, presumably in the 1920s, apparently showed the evidence of impressionism. One presumes that toward the end of his life Providence gave Tolman a major retrospective exhibition, which Lovecraft would have likely seen (unless he was away in New York at that point). I can’t find one, but there was a 1935 list catalogue for a Memorial Exhibition of Paintings, Drawings and Etchings by Stacy Tolman.

It is quite probable he was a teacher of Lovecraft’s Providence correspondent (and probable local friend) Frederick Allen Wesley, who studied at the Rhode Island School of Design as evidenced by the 1903 yearbook (and probably also studied there in later years)…


There is an ink drawing of Wesley by Tolman, not yet available online…

   Rhode Island Historical Society–Graphics Dept.:
   1. Ink drawing, “Frederick Allen Wesley” (call# Graphics XXB Painting T652 1)

Given this, one wonders if Lovecraft’s friend Wesley was the model for the artist in “The Call of Cthulhu”…

“who had latterly been studying sculpture at the Rhode Island School of Design and living alone at the Fleur-de-Lys Building near that institution. Wilcox was a precocious youth of known genius but great eccentricity”

Note that the last “A.W.” initials of Henry Anthony Wilcox are the same as those of Frederick A. Wesley, and that Lovecraft has a tendency to slip his friends into his stories.

One wonders if the Tolman portrait of Wesley will show something of Lovecraft’s description of Wilcox in “The Call of Cthulhu” as a…

   “thin, dark young man of neurotic and excited aspect”


Ralph Davol, “An Appreciation of Stacey Tolman“, Brush and Pencil, an illustrated magazine of the arts today, Vol.7, Dec. 1900, pp. 163-172.

John. I.H. Baur, “A Painter of Painters: Stacy Tolman”, American Art Journal, Jan 1979, pp.37-48. 14 illustrations.