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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
**JRRT: Artist & Illustrator. The Hobbit, Part II – Escape by Barrel**


Feb 22 2007, 5:25am

Views: 781
**JRRT: Artist & Illustrator. The Hobbit, Part II – Escape by Barrel** Can't Post

After an unpleasant and dreary time underground, Bilbo springs the captive dwarves, and floats them in barrels out of the Elven-king’s palace. He rides a barrel himself, and they all come to the Forest River at the place where the Raft-elves gather the barrels and make them into a raft for transport to Laketown.

From The Hobbit, Chapter IX, ‘Barrels Out of Bond”:
In this way at last Mr. Baggins came to a place where the trees on either hand grew thinner. He could see the paler sky between them. The dark river opened suddenly wide, and there it was joined to the main water of the Forest River flowing down in haste from the king's great doors. There was a dim sheet of water no longer overshadowed, and on its sliding surface there were dancing and broken reflections of clouds and of stars. Then the hurrying water of the Forest River swept all the company of casks and tubs away to the north bank, in which it had eaten out a wide bay. This had a shingly shore under hanging banks and was walled at the eastern end by a little jutting cape of hard rock. On the shallow shore most of the barrels ran aground, though a few went on to bump against the stony pier.

Tolkien did a fairly finished watercolor sketch of this scene.

122. Sketch for the Forest River
Click here for a larger view.

Hammond and Scull criticize this picture as being untrue to Tolkien’s map.

Detail from the map of Wilderland.

Is it untrue to the map? How so? Does it matter?

Other than the map, what do you think of the sketch? What’s wrong and what’s right? Why does Tolkien label it only a “sketch”?

Well, evidently Tolkien agreed with H&S. He rethought his composition, and did several more sketches. The only one (the “most detailed” one) published in Artist and Illustrator is this:

123. Untitled (Sketch for Bilbo Comes to the Huts of the Raft-elves)
Click here for a larger view.

What did Tolkien do? What’s different? What’s wrong with it – if anything?

Of course, it’s always most interesting to compare a sketch to the final product:

124. Bilbo Comes to the Huts of the Raft-elves (Published in The Hobbit, UK edition)
Click here for a larger view.

This was Tolkien’s own favorite picture of all his artwork. Hammond and Scull say “It is a superbly effective work, at once dramatic, decorative and romantic.”

Do you agree that this is Tolkien’s single best painting?

Can you identify a bit of what gives the painting its style? What is “realistic” – and what is not? Talk about the trees, the water, and the light – for starters.

How closely does it follow the writing?

This color plate made it into the British second edition – but the American publishers chose to use the Eagle painting instead. I remember being very surprised when I first saw this painting, since I was raised on the American edition.

Should the Americans have gone with this “masterpiece” of Tolkien’s?

How much in dollars would you bid for the original painting if it showed up on eBay? Be realistic.

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 – Escape by Barrel** squire Send a private message to squire Feb 22 2007, 5:25am
    Very fine trees. Penthe Send a private message to Penthe Feb 22 2007, 9:07am
        Indeed drogo Send a private message to drogo Feb 23 2007, 12:46am
    The huts should be in deep, deep shadow. And the sun should be blinding. Curious Send a private message to Curious Feb 22 2007, 1:49pm
    The last one, #124, Bilbo Comes to the Huts of the Raft Elves, GaladrielTX Send a private message to GaladrielTX Feb 22 2007, 1:52pm
    I don't know about realism. Morwen Send a private message to Morwen Feb 22 2007, 4:55pm
        sun on water a.s. Send a private message to a.s. Feb 22 2007, 7:16pm
            More like oil on water to me. Are we sure those elves Curious Send a private message to Curious Feb 22 2007, 8:38pm
    key word is "decorative" Daughter of Nienna Send a private message to Daughter of Nienna Feb 22 2007, 9:40pm
    Still too steep Beren IV Send a private message to Beren IV Feb 23 2007, 5:08am
    The final picture "feels soft". dernwyn Send a private message to dernwyn Feb 24 2007, 4:54am
    The final image linkin-artelf Send a private message to linkin-artelf Mar 5 2007, 5:27am


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