To celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit, a sumptuous full colour art book containing the complete collection of more than 100 Hobbit sketches, drawings, paintings and maps by J.R.R. Tolkien.
When J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Hobbit, he was already an accomplished amateur artist, and drew illustrations for his book while it was still in manuscript. The Hobbit as first printed had ten black and white pictures, two maps, and binding and dust-jacket designs by its author. Later, Tolkien also painted five scenes for colour plates which are some of his best work. His illustrations for The Hobbit add an extra dimension to that remarkable book, and have long influenced how readers imagine Bilbo Baggins and his world. To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit, the complete artwork created by the author for his story has been collected in The Art of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Including related pictures, more than one hundred sketches, drawings, paintings, maps, and plans are presented here, preliminary and alternate versions and experimental designs as well as finished art. Some of these images are now published for the first time, and others for the first time in colour. Fresh digital scans from the Bodleian Libraries in Oxford and Marquette University in Wisconsin allow Tolkien's Hobbit pictures to be seen more vividly than ever before. The Art of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien has been written and edited by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, two of the leading experts on Tolkien and authors of the acclaimed J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator, The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, and The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide.
Never having seen any of Tolkien's artworks before, I was able to approach this with a blank slate - no prior opinions for or against. Thus, I was intrigued by what I would find. And a treasure worthy of Smaug himself did I find a-lurking in these pages.
The artwork is, as promised, set out ina timeline fashion... ranging from the roughest of preliminary sketches to the final, finshed works published at the time. Primative, by some reckonings, personally I found them refreshing in their edgy simplicity - far from the overpolished, ultra-detailled offerings of today. Also, considering that they are up to 80 years old, if you factor in the time preior to publication 75 years ago, they were pretty good for their day.
This is a reference book for sure, but more than that it is a collectors' piece for those wanting something more than the glossy photos books sure to come documenting the movie making process, the location guides, the movie adaptations, etc... all the guff that caters to the new market. This, this is for the believer, the die-hard fan, the reader who wants the gritty, raw history and not just the glossy modern shine. Bound in hardback, with a hard slipcase, all adorned with Tolkein's own painstaking illustrations, this is more than a book, it is ART.
Overall, a niche market, to be sure, but for those who love Middle Earth and all the tales surrounding it, this is a piece of the story you will treasure.
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