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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
**JRRT: Artist & Illustrator. The Hobbit, Part II – And Back Again, to Bag-End**


Feb 25 2007, 9:45pm

Views: 273
**JRRT: Artist & Illustrator. The Hobbit, Part II – And Back Again, to Bag-End** Can't Post

Hammond and Scull note that “Tolkien was less artistically inspired by the final chapters of The Hobbit, which are full of action or which retrace Bilbo’s road as he returns to Hobbiton.” So for Chapters 15 to 19, they point out, there are only two sketches total, of which only one got published.

In sections of five chapters, The Hobbit’s page and picture count and ratio is:
1-5, 100 pp, 4 pictures = 1:25 pictures per page
6-10, 110 pp, 5 pictures = 1:22 “
11-15, 65 pp, 2 pictures = 1:32 “
16-19, 30 pp, 1 picture = 1:30 “

Do you think Tolkien ran out of artistic steam for the last five chapters out of nineteen, as Hammond and Scull imply? Should we be thinking, as the editors obviously are, of the number of pictures Tolkien started, not the number he published?

What scenes in the latter part of The Hobbit do you wish Tolkien had illustrated?

In any case, after the death of Smaug, there really are only two illustrations left to consider in this collection. Tolkien began, very roughly, to sketch out an idea for one of the most dramatic moments in the entire book, the coming of the Eagles to the Battle of Five Armies:

From The Hobbit, Chapter XVII, ‘The Clouds Burst”:
[Bilbo] had taken his stand on Ravenhill among the Elves-partly because there was more chance of escape from that point, and partly (with the more Tookish part of his mind) because if he was going to be in a last desperate stand, he preferred on the whole to defend the Elvenking. Gandalf, too, I may say, was there, sitting on the ground as if in deep thought, preparing, I suppose, some last blast of magic before the end. That did not seem far off.
The clouds were torn by the wind, and a red sunset slashed the West. Seeing the sudden gleam in the gloom Bilbo looked round. He gave a great cry: he had seen a sight that made his heart leap, dark shapes small yet majestic against the distant glow.
"The Eagles! The Eagles!" he shouted. "The Eagles are coming!"
Bilbo's eyes were seldom wrong. The eagles were coming down the wind, line after line, in such a host as must have gathered from all the eyries of the North.

138. The Coming of the Eagles
Click here for a larger view.

What can you identify? What is the point of view? What is that black smoosh?

Should Tolkien have pressed on and tried to complete this sketch?

Hmm. Well, perhaps that’s a good example of why Tolkien didn’t try to do any more illustrations of the “action-packed” end of his book. What he did do, is another all time favorite, both quirky and charming:

From The Hobbit, Chapter I, ‘An Unexpected Party”:

It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle. The door opened on to a tube-shaped hall like a tunnel: a very comfortable tunnel without smoke, with panelled walls, and floors tiled and carpeted, provided with polished chairs, and lots and lots of pegs for hats and coats - the hobbit was fond of visitors.
As soon as the door was opened, he pushed inside, just as if he had been expected.
He hung his hooded cloak on the nearest peg, and "Dwalin at your service!" he said with a low bow.

From The Hobbit, Chapter XIX, ‘The Last Stage”:

He was quite content; and the sound of the kettle on his hearth was ever after more musical than it had been even in the quiet days before the Unexpected Party. His sword he hung over the mantelpiece. His coat of mail was arranged on a stand in the hall (until he lent it to a Museum).

Here, for kicks, I’ll introduce guest artist John Howe, whose well-known Bag-End is a first-class homage to Tolkien’s:

139. The Hall at Bag-End (published in The Hobbit); and Bag-End by John Howe.
Click here and here, respectively, for larger views.

Howe is a professional illustrator, Tolkien was an amateur. How can we tell?

What do Howe and Tolkien agree on? What do they disagree on? Which do you like better?

Hammond and Scull note that Bilbo could not possibly reach his own doorknob. Why might Howe have left Bilbo out of his version?

Where did the mail coat and sword go in Tolkien’s drawing? And check out Bilbo’s hat! (shapeless what . . . ?)

Part of the difference is that Howe is painting in color. How’s Howe in black and white?

Another difference is simply the development of illustrative styles over the years. What might professional illustrators of Tolkien’s own time have made of Bag-End? Can you name any favorite illustrators from the 1930s (or maybe a little earlier or later!) that you wish could have tried to illustrate The Hobbit?

Why in the end did Allen & Unwin (and Houghton Mifflin) agree that Tolkien’s illustrations were worthy of publication?

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 – And Back Again, to Bag-End** squire Send a private message to squire Feb 25 2007, 9:45pm
    Howe drogo Send a private message to drogo Feb 25 2007, 10:01pm
        Pauline Baynes did illustrate The Hobbit in Bilbo's Last Song. Curious Send a private message to Curious Feb 26 2007, 12:11am
            I've never seen that one drogo Send a private message to drogo Feb 26 2007, 12:17am
                Pauline Baynes Smaug Wynnie Send a private message to Wynnie Feb 26 2007, 12:34am
                    Pauline Baynes Saelind Send a private message to Saelind Feb 26 2007, 12:50am
                        Looking forward to it. N.E. Brigand Send a private message to N.E. Brigand Feb 26 2007, 7:46am
                    Her Smaug seems similar to Tolkien's Morwen Send a private message to Morwen Feb 26 2007, 1:13am
            Yay, got my copy already! drogo Send a private message to drogo Feb 28 2007, 10:30pm
                You are welcome. I'm glad you like it. Anyone who likes Baynes' drawings Curious Send a private message to Curious Mar 1 2007, 3:27pm
        Interesting! Aerin Send a private message to Aerin Feb 26 2007, 5:22am
            The objects on the right dernwyn Send a private message to dernwyn Feb 27 2007, 2:22am
    Twice as many pages in early chapters? N.E. Brigand Send a private message to N.E. Brigand Feb 25 2007, 10:01pm
    Howe reduces the scale of the room by enlarging the furniture. Curious Send a private message to Curious Feb 26 2007, 1:18am
        Parrish and Wyeth squire Send a private message to squire Feb 26 2007, 2:56am


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