Investigator's name:Lawrence Basil Wentworth
Place of Birth: Boston, MA
Degrees/Colleges: Miskatonic U. Arkham, Massachusetts, cole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, France
Background: Born Lawrence Basil Wentworth III in 1903, by the age of five both his father and grandfather were deceased - the father the victim a violent murder, the grandfather from alcoholism - leaving him Lawrence Basil Wentworth the only. His motherās devastation at her husbandās death, combined with her general ill health, meant that where she was not over-indulgent she was unavailable. Lawrenceās decision to become an artist was therefore met with little opposition and he entered the Miskatonic University Art Program in 1921, majoring in painting. Tuition was paid from his own account. Money for art materials was got by working afternoons in an established antiquarian bookshop where he spent much of his time sketching.
After completing nearly three years of study he was offered a scholarship to Lācole des Beaux-Arts, where he honed his paining skills in classes and at the Muse du Louvre while also practicing the three dimensional arts. But it was in the studios, the galleries and the salons that the experimental French art of the past twenty years changed him. Lawrence was inspired by Picassoās Primitivism, Matisseās sensuality, Dufyās calligraphic lines, the paintings and sculpture of Futurists and Fauves, Symbolists and Surrealists, Impressionist, Expressionist, Cubist, Dadaist, the dream images of Odilon Redon; all of this had a profound effect on him, rendering much of the Muse du Louvreās renaissance treasures pale and dead to him. Only the Louvreās antiquities interested him now and even they were eclipsed by the brilliant madness of modern painting, to be seen all over Paris, jewels cast at his feet. His hand and eye were trained by day; by night his soul was pierced by exquisite visions, through it all, he sketched, and he painted.
March of 1925 was spent in feverish activity; living on bread, absinthe and little sleep Lawrence could do nothing but paint, and sketch by daylight and candlelight in his rude studentās garret, going out only for more supplies and, when it occurred to him, food. His output, some thirty-odd paintings (including several on the walls of his bedroom) and hundreds of sketches of a dream-city, was phenomenal, if nothing else, in quantity. After nearly a month he returned to classes, haggard and drained. "I had never felt so alive," he would say, "as I did that month." Excerpts from a two reviews, translated from the French: Monsieur Laurant Wentworth paints with the dark palate; his charcoals, greys, greens suggestive of basalt rock crusted with verdant muck disturbing lines, ponderous masses. Palpable tension. Like a dream. Is it the landscape of a cubist? Is it the dream world of the surrealist? It is suffused with implacable doom. It is implacable. It is nightmare. It is Ugly! - LāErmitage The American Laurant Wentworth is without worth. He makes a collage of the work of others; the ominous buildings of De Chirico, the angles and planes of Georges Braque - his overwrought skies obviously stolen from El Greco! A thief, then, and like a thief he sells treasures cheaply. - Le Monde
The opening of King Tutās Tomb in 1924 meant that more artists were needed in Egypt to copy Egyptian antiquities. Lawrence was contacted and hired in the summer of 1925, his passage paid in advance. Cairo, its land and buildings bleached of color while its denizens were drenched in it, inspired many paintings, while the organic architecture of the buildings inspired him to sketch - as did the dancers. There was also much work to be done and much to be learned copying hieroglyphs which he also carved in order to better understand their form. By the time he left again for France in 1927 he had learned to read them with some skill, and speak some Arabic. Once back in France Lawrence continued to produce, visiting still more galleries, the Louvre to see and sketch the Egyptian pieces there, and down into the catacombs with some of his old friends. But this was mostly to say goodbye to Paris, as he had decided to return to Massachusetts. He begins writing letters and making inquiries.
Other Names: Lawrence is also known as "Baz" among his decidedly bohemian art crowd, "Lo" to at least one prior girlfriend, and "Laurant" among his intimates in France.