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**JRRT: Artist & Illustrator. The Hobbit, Part II – Elven Halls**

squire
Valinor


Feb 21 2007, 1:47pm


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**JRRT: Artist & Illustrator. The Hobbit, Part II – Elven Halls** Can't Post

The next thing we know, Thorin, the Dwarves, and even the Hobbit are marched through the woods to the underground fastness of the Elven-king’s halls.

From The Hobbit, Chapter VIII, ‘Flies and Spiders’:
In a great cave some miles within the edge of Mirkwood on its eastern side there lived at this time their greatest king. Before his huge doors of stone a river ran out of the heights of the forest and flowed on and out into the marshes at the feet of the high wooded lands. This great cave, from which countless smaller ones opened out on every side, wound far underground and had many passages and wide halls; but it was lighter and more wholesome than any goblin-dwelling, and neither so deep nor so dangerous. In fact the subjects of the king mostly lived and hunted in the open woods, and had houses or huts on the ground and in the branches. The beeches were their favourite trees. The king's cave was his palace, and the strong place of his treasure, and the fortress of his people against their enemies.


Tolkien wanted to illustrate this one for this chapter, but he ran into two problems: one, how to draw the subject with the proper artistic and emotional feeling; and two, how to think about this Elvenking’s halls without thinking about another’s – that is, the halls of Nargothrond in the Silmarillion tales, which he had just been inventing, in the late 1920s, when he began his Hobbit tale.

Hammond and Scull quote Christopher Tolkien on this issue: “The two [palace entrances] were visually one, or little distinguished: a single image with more than one emergence in the legends.”

From The Hobbit, Chapter IX, ‘Barrels Out of Bond”:
Bilbo had all he could do to keep up with the torches, for the elves were making the dwarves go as fast as ever they could, sick and weary as they were. The king had ordered them to make haste. Suddenly the torches stopped, and the hobbit had just time to catch them up before they began to cross the bridge. This was the bridge that led across the river to the king's doors. The water flowed dark and swift and strong beneath; and at the far end were gates before the mouth of a huge cave that ran into the side of a steep slope covered with trees. There the great beeches came right down to the bank, till their feet were in the stream. Across this bridge the elves thrust their prisoners, but Bilbo hesitated in the rear. He did not at all like the look of the cavern-mouth and he only made up his mind not to desert his friends just in time to scuttle over at the heels of the fast elves, before the great gates of the king closed behind them with a clang.


Well, you be the judge. In any case, here are Tolkien’s various attempts at rendering the Elvenking’s Halls, in the order that Hammond and Scull have assigned them:


117. Untitled (Entrance to the Elvenking's Halls)
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118. Entrance to the Elvenking's Halls
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119. Untitled (Entrance to the Elvenking's Halls)
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What do you see so far in the sequence? What is Tolkien trying to get at, if none of these pictures proved satisfactory to him?

How close are these pictures to the description?

Could you begin to describe a Tolkien ‘style’ based on these efforts?

Now here are the two pictures, of the Elvenking’s Halls, and Nargothrond, respectively. Based on the papers he drew these on the back of, Hammond and Scull conclude that both were drawn in the same relatively short span of time, presumably late 1936-early 1937.


120. Gate of the Elvenking's Halls
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57. Untitled (Nargothrond)
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What are the differences between the Nargothrond image, and the Mirkwood one? Are the differences important?

Where else did a “single image” emerge in two (or more) different places in Tolkien’s legendarium?

Hammond and Scull comment that 120 is technically good enough to have been published (they are considering issues of tone and line from a printers’ point of view, as well as the artistic). But Tolkien obviously did not think so. Here is the illustration Tolkien settled on.


121. The Elvenking's Gate (published in The Hobbit)
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How does it differ from the earlier compositions? What did Tolkien learn from this process?

Do you think this is the best one, or do you wish that Tolkien and his publishers had settled on one of the others?



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Footeramas: The 3rd TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary

Subject User Time
**JRRT: Artist & Illustrator. The Hobbit, Part II – Elven Halls** squire Send a private message to squire Feb 21 2007, 1:47pm
    Elvenking's Hall and Nargothrond drogo Send a private message to drogo Feb 21 2007, 6:54pm
    chez Thranduil Wynnie Send a private message to Wynnie Feb 21 2007, 8:08pm
    It is again difficult to tell apart the First Age from the Third Beren IV Send a private message to Beren IV Feb 22 2007, 1:29am
    Notice the contrast with the pictures of Mirkwood and Fangorn. Curious Send a private message to Curious Feb 22 2007, 12:03pm
    Different perspectives Atlas Send a private message to Atlas Feb 22 2007, 1:21pm
        Nice to see you here again. (nt) N.E. Brigand Send a private message to N.E. Brigand Feb 22 2007, 4:30pm
            Thanks. (nt) Atlas Send a private message to Atlas Feb 23 2007, 5:35am
    Tolkien does like "round", doesn't he dernwyn Send a private message to dernwyn Feb 23 2007, 4:36pm
    The final image linkin-artelf Send a private message to linkin-artelf Mar 5 2007, 5:12am
        I've read that European art of the late 1800s GaladrielTX Send a private message to GaladrielTX Mar 5 2007, 2:01pm
            possible Japanese influence a.s. Send a private message to a.s. Mar 5 2007, 10:52pm
                The link worked, thanks, a.s. linkin-artelf Send a private message to linkin-artelf Mar 8 2007, 6:54am
                He bought some Japanese prints c. 1911. N.E. Brigand Send a private message to N.E. Brigand Mar 8 2007, 7:01am

 
 
 

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