J.R.R.Tolkien: Artist & Illustrator

Studies of the Art and Artists Inspired by the Writings of J.R.R.Tolkien
Riv Res
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J.R.R.Tolkien: Artist & Illustrator

Postby Riv Res » Mon Aug 22, 2005 9:36 pm

Image

© J.R.R.Tolkien





J.R.R.Tolkien: Artist & Illustrator

We have long felt that Tolkien’s art deserves to be as well known as his writings. The two were closely linked, and in his paintings and drawings he displayed remarkable powers of invention that equalled his skill with words.


He was by no means a professional artist. But he loved to draw, and found in his pictures as in his writing an outlet for the visions that burgeoned within his thoughts—another means of expression, another language, as it were, among the several in which he was fluent.


These two quotes, from the foreward and first chapter, respectively, of Wayne Hammond’s and Christian Scull’s wonderful book, J. R. R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator, articulate the tension that those of us who are charmed by Tolkien’s drawings sometimes feel. Certainly they are not as skillful as those of Alan Lee or John Howe. But there is something absolutely authentic, just plain right, about the style and execution of his illustration of ‘The Hill: Hobbiton-across-the Water’ or the lovely Rivendell (a framed copy of which resides on one of my walls). And can anyone now draw the front hall of Bag End or Durin’s Door in any way substantially different than Tolkien did? Fortunate indeed are the ones who own copies of Tolkien’s books with his own illustrations included!

Hammond and Scull have given us a detailed look at the Professor’s artistic journey from boyhood drawings, to his mature illustrations of Middle-earth, to the decorative doodles and heraldic designs that fascinated him toward the end of his life. Is his art as skillful as his prose? Well, that would be the topic for a really fine discussion, wouldn’t it?

This is the place to discuss Tolkien’s artwork and Hammond and Scull’s commentary, in compliance, of course, with the House Rules. Do you have a favorite drawing or painting by the Professor? A treasured copy of The Hobbit with his own illustrations? A theory about why his art is so charming? Then let’s talk, shall we?

As always please be mindful of our House Rules.
Last edited by Riv Res on Sun Jun 13, 2010 4:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Merry
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Postby Merry » Wed Sep 21, 2005 1:53 am

Anybody else a fan of Tolkien's drawings? I think I like his trees the best.
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Mararan
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Postby Mararan » Wed Sep 21, 2005 2:07 am

Merry, I really like his drawings. I went to Marquette University in Milwaukee to see an exhibit, and I was struck by his drawing of the Doors of Durin. They are so intricate and detailed, as if the Professor was standing in front of them as he drew.
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Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Wed Sep 21, 2005 10:28 am

Tolkien really does have a unique artistic vision. You're right about the trees, Merry, I love his wtercolour of Fangorn Forest. It looks strange and spooky but nothing like any later interpretations of it! The trees have twisted roots but are tall and straight, not twisted and gnarled like we would expect.

The picture above in Riv's introductory post is quite beautiful, isn't it?
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Varda
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Postby Varda » Sat Sep 24, 2005 10:02 pm

I think my favorite is Conversation with Smaug~ that showed up in the 1938 American edition of The Hobbit. Such a magnificent dragon! :)
More favorites are the Heraldic Devices Tolkien designed for the line of elves. These showed up on calendars and are in the Pictures by J.R.R.Tolkien.
Other than the above mentioned book and J.R.R. Tolkien Artist & Illustrator by Hammond & Scull, does anyone know if there are any other books that show his work extensively?
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O Elbereth! Gilthomiel!
We still remember, we who dwell
In this far land beneath the trees,
Thy starlight on the Western Seas.

Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Sun Sep 25, 2005 9:59 am

I don't know the answer, Varda, but like you I'd like to know if there is!

Conversation with Smaug is a terrific picture with it's wonderful colours and the little tiny Bilbo bowing to him. And I love the little skulls and a sword and shield by the big pot with the elvish writing as well as the skulls scattered around his treasure hoard. It was on the cover of my first ever copy of The Hobbit.
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Riv Res
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Postby Riv Res » Sun Sep 25, 2005 5:23 pm

Varda wrote:I think my favorite is Conversation with Smaug~ that showed up in the 1938 American edition of The Hobbit. Such a magnificent dragon! :)
More favorites are the Heraldic Devices Tolkien designed for the line of elves. These showed up on calendars and are in the Pictures by J.R.R.Tolkien.
Other than the above mentioned book and J.R.R. Tolkien Artist & Illustrator by Hammond & Scull, does anyone know if there are any other books that show his work extensively?


Varda, I do believe that J.R.R. Tolkien Artist & Illustrator is set up to be the authority work on Tolkien's own art, and thus the most extensive collection...all in one place. One thing that Merry and I learned at last fall's Tolkien Conference at Marquette University...and it helped to be staying at the same hotel and sharing a shuttle bus (and conversation) with Hammond & Scull...is that they had rather unprecedented access to Tolkien's extensive private collection through association with Christopher Tolkien while working on the book.

I think one can find bits and pieces in other collections, but H&S have the signature work on the subject I believe.
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Merry
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Postby Merry » Sun Sep 25, 2005 9:06 pm

Varda, I just checked: Pictures by J. R. R. Tolkien is out of print (AND very expensive to buy as a used book--you have a treasure!). From what I can read, it was a better quality edition of Tolkien's artwork than Hammond and Scull. But H&S's commentary is also interesting in itself, isn't it?

The Hitchin-Carter designs at the beginning of most of our threads at MeJ remind me a little of Tolkien's heraldic devices.

One of the things I also enjoy about Tolkien's illustrations are the little designed borders and calligraphy that are parts of some of them.
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Varda
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Location: maryland

Postby Varda » Sun Sep 25, 2005 10:36 pm

You can get a copy of Pictures on Ebay if you try hard,sometimes the bidding goes crazy~ well over $100. I keep pinching myself, as I bought mine MANY years ago for $30.00!! :shock:

Many of the drawings in Pictures that are of The Silmarillion state they are from a calendar that came out in 1978. I wonder if they're any that are not in any of the books of his work :?:

And yes his borders are wonderful, some look at though he was *doodling* !

To see not only Tolkien's illustrations and calligraphy, check out a copy of Letters from Father Christmas. :!:
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O Elbereth! Gilthomiel!

We still remember, we who dwell

In this far land beneath the trees,

Thy starlight on the Western Seas.

Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Wed Sep 28, 2005 3:01 pm

My copy of J.R.R. Tolkien Artist & Illustrator is on it's way from Amazon :D . I've looked at this book before in the bookshops and I think it's about time I bought it :oops: . I think Tolkien's style is so distinctive and that even without the Middle-Earth subject matter I would recognise anything painted by him.

Actually, did he ever paint other scenes or only illustrate his written works?
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Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Fri Sep 30, 2005 12:46 pm

It's arrived :D . It's wonderful and I can now answer my own question - yes he did! Though it's in Tolkien's Middle Earth illustrations that he really finds the best of his unique style. I'm blown away by some of the pen and ink drawings though. More on them when I've had a better chance to take it all in.
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Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

Philipa
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Postby Philipa » Wed Oct 05, 2005 12:12 am

Something tells me it will be another book Christmas. :D
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Aiya Earendil Elenion Ancalima!

Thoughts from Eryn Lasgalen An online guide to all things Tolkien

Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Thu Oct 06, 2005 3:36 pm

It's a really interesting book, Philipa. I'm fascinated by how he reworked some scenes over and over so there are several versions of Rivendell, each more complex than the last. And I love the Letters from Father Christmas illustrations and the dancing polar bears. Yet another book I need to buy myself, it looks delightful.

There are watercolours of woods, landscapes and cottages but it's in Middle-earth that he finds his true and unique artistic style.
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Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

Merry
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Postby Merry » Sun Oct 23, 2005 12:00 am

I just saw a 2006 Hobbit calendar in the bookstore--all Tolkien's own illustrations, some of which I have not seen before, even in Hammond and Scull. Another item for the Christmas list!
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Philipa
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Postby Philipa » Sun Oct 23, 2005 12:57 am

Good news Merry. One of my good friends has 2005 calendar and I had not seen many of those illustrations either. I will look for this calendar now it is available :D
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Aiya Earendil Elenion Ancalima!



Thoughts from Eryn Lasgalen An online guide to all things Tolkien


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