morpheus: lord of dreams

Neil Gaiman conceived Morpheus looking like the Cure’s Robert Smith. Author Steven Millhauser wrote him as a roly-poly Oscar Wilde-type character. In both cases, the god of dreams was represented as an adult. I’ve chosen to render him as an adolescent, mostly because I spent a great deal of time at that age sleeping.

I wanted to show Morpheus as a poet-soul, prone to drift into reverie. Part Jim Morrison, part Aubrey Beardsley, he sits on his poppy throne while three owlish moths await his awakening. As he is the brother to Death, I show him as being rather skeletal and wraith-like. The idea for the single wing on the side of his head was inspired by a bust of Hypnos—who was both the god of sleep, and Morpheus’s father.

The poppy is the flower where opium comes from, from which can be extracted the sedative morphine.