Our Sponsor Sideshow Collectibles Send us News
Lord of the Rings Tolkien
Search Tolkien
Lord of The RingsTheOneRing.net - Forged By And For Fans Of JRR Tolkien
Lord of The Rings Serving Middle-Earth Since The First Age

Lord of the Rings Movie News - J.R.R. Tolkien
Do you enjoy the 100% volunteer, not for profit services of TheOneRing.net?
Consider a donation!

  Main Index   Search Posts   Who's Online   Log in
The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Couple of questions regarding Tolkien's description of Gandalf

Grey Havens

Oct 16 2012, 4:20am

Post #1 of 3 (580 views)
Couple of questions regarding Tolkien's description of Gandalf Can't Post

After having taken some art classes, I've decided to start illustrating some characters/scenes from Tolkien's mythology. I wanted to start with Gandalf, and I wanted to adhere as closely to Tolkien's own description as humanly possible. Here is the most detailed description we have of Gandalf from Tolkien:

"...a figure strongly built and with broad shoulder, though shorter than the average of men and now stooped with age, leaning on a thick rough-cut staff as he trudged along... Gandalf's hat was wide-brimmed [..] with a pointed conical crown, and it was blue; he wore a long grey cloak, but this would not reach much below his knees. It was of an elven silver-grey hue, though tarnished by wear - as is evident from the general use of grey in the book... But his colours were always white, silver-grey, and blue - except for the boots he wore when walking in the wild...Gandalf even bent must have been at least 5 ft. 6... Which would make him a short man even in modern England, especially with the reduction of a bent back."

As I try to visualize this, a couple of things hold me up, and I was wondering if someone could help clarify it for me.

- "He wore a long grey cloak, but this would not reach much below his knees." When Tolkien says "cloak," does he mean a robe/tunic, or does he literally mean a cloak (something like a cape)? If it's the latter, what kind of clothes would Gandalf be wearing under the cloak?

- "Leaning on a thick rough-cut staff." How tall is the staff? Is it taller than Gandalf (as often depicted by John Howe, for example), or does it come to chest height (as often depicted by Alan Lee). I know there are passages in LoTR where Gandalf is said to be "leaning over" his staff, which would imply that it's not as tall as it's depicted in the films or in many pieces of art.

- Almost all of the Gandalf artwork I have seen have Gandalf's robes reaching down to his ankles. However, given that Tolkien makes it a point to describe Gandalf's big black boots, I have to assume that we are supposed to be able to see this. Which means that Gandalf's robe should go down to just below his knees. Is this a reasonable assumption to make based on the text?

The Shire

Oct 16 2012, 7:25pm

Post #2 of 3 (291 views)
Drawing Gandalf [In reply to] Can't Post

You may wish to consult Tolkien's own drawing of Gandalf in Artist & Illustrator by Hammon and Scull (p. 99). In my own attempts to illustrate Tolkien's world I find his descriptions of his characters are usually unhelpful (if not contradictory in places) For Gandalf, I've gleaned that Tolkien was inspired by a postcard depicting an old man in a forest - I think the work depicted on the card was titled "Spirit of the Mountain" or something like that, someone here will no doubt have the exact reference. Of course, the visual depiction of Gandalf has been dominated by John Howe's painting and copied by Jackson in the films, it is pretty hard to overcome that visual form - good luck with your artwork!


Oct 17 2012, 6:46am

Post #3 of 3 (398 views)
Don't miss this thread... [In reply to] Can't Post

...in Off Topic!

Join us NOW in the Reading Room for detailed discussions of The Hobbit, July 9-Nov. 18!

Elizabeth is the TORnsib formerly known as 'erather'


Search for (options) Powered by Gossamer Forum v.1.2.3

home | advertising | contact us | back to top | search news | join list | Content Rating

This site is maintained and updated by fans of The Lord of the Rings, and is in no way affiliated with Tolkien Enterprises or the Tolkien Estate. We in no way claim the artwork displayed to be our own. Copyrights and trademarks for the books, films, articles, and other promotional materials are held by their respective owners and their use is allowed under the fair use clause of the Copyright Law. Design and original photography however are copyright © 1999-2012 TheOneRing.net. Binary hosting provided by Nexcess.net

Do not follow this link, or your host will be blocked from this site. This is a spider trap.