Picturing…

Picturing The Hobbit

With Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit a week away, the world is in a three-foot-high frenzy. Of course, The Hobbit has been inspiring artists and readers for generations. Artwise, I’ve always had a soft spot for The Hobbit; I love that it lends itself equally well to delightful and weighty interpretations. Below, let’s take a look at how just a few of the unofficial band of “Tolkien artists” have approached Bilbo’s story.

Above, The Battle of Five Armies by Justin Gerard.

Alan Lee’s goblin king: this whole post could be full of Lee’s work. He’s truly one of the best of our contemporary painters. You’ll see that I restricted myself to just three throughout the post…

 

Queer Lodgings, part of Sam Bosma’s great series of Hobbit paintings: “I like the eagles a lot. They only do good in the stories but Tolkien is very careful to not make them cute. They are still giant raptors that steal livestock and might hunger for a hobbit-sized snack at any time.”

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

Gollum, from Swedish author and illustrator Inger Edelfeldt.

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

Tim Kirk captures The Riddle Game

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

Greg and Tim Hildebrandt made their careers painting Tolkien’s world: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

Darrell K. Sweet’s eagle’s nest. Donato Giancola (who now owns this painting) often credits Darrell with helping to ignite a life-long love of Tolkien’s work in him.

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

Barrels Out of Bond: Ted Nasmith’s Barrel Rider.

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

Donato Giancola’s “expulsion from paradise” take on The Hobbit.

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

J. R. R. Tolkien’s own drawing of The Hobbit landscape.

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

Roger Garland, with a relaxed Gandalf.

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

Justin Gerard, who said about painting The Hobbit, “I like drawing monsters that are just a little bit human, and who have personalities that you might recognize in people you’ve encountered in your own adventures, and The Hobbit has the very best of these.”

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

J. R. R. Tolkien

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

Peter Konig: concept art for Smaug, back when Guillermo del Toro was working on the movie.

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

The whole story told in the round, by Ian Escobar Loos.

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

Riddles in the Dark: David Wyatt did a series of great ink drawings for the book’s chapter heads.

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

David T. Wenzel: “Chip the glasses and crack the plates! / Blunt the knives and bend the forks! / That’s what Bilbo Baggins hates.“

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

Cory Godbey’s simple yet heroic Bilbo.

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

Iain McCaig, the man who invented Darth Maul, with a fierce Gandalf.

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

Super-cute Bilbo and Gandalf by António Quadros.
 

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

Greg and Tim Hildebrandt and An Unexpected Party.

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

Eric Fraser:”Farewell!” they cried. “wherever you fare, till your eyries receive you at the journey’s end!”

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

Michael Hague: Rescued From Wolves.

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

Sam Bosma: The Dwarves of yore made mighty spells / while hammers fell like ringing bells / in places deep, where dark things sleep / in hollow halls beneath the fells.”

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

From German illustrator Klaus Ensikat:

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

The Rankin/Bass animated Hobbit….one of my most favorite movies as a kid. (And read-along record album.)

 

A battle scene by Matthew Stewart:

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

Mikhail Belomlinsky’s scratchboard Hobbitses.

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

John Howe—famous, of course, for being the lead artist on the Peter Jackson movies—has a long and wonderful history of painting Middle-earth.

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

Jonny Hodgson’s painting based largely on Tolkien’s Smaug graphic (seen at the end of this post.)

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

The legendary Frank Frazetta: “Feeling tricksy, my precious?

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

And a pen-and-ink, also from Frank Frazetta.

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

Randy Berrett, now working his magic at Pixar. 

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

Acclaimed Dutch artist Cor Blok:

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

A drunken Galion from I. Hmielnickij.

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

Maurice Sendak was briefly assigned The Hobbit. Sadly, I don’t think the project got any further than this one image.

 

Finland’s national treasure, Tove Jansson (of Moomin fame) did a wonderful series of Hobbit drawings. You can see them all here.

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

John Howe, Gandalf in Hobbiton

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

Chris Rahn: Over Hill and Under Hill

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

Ted Nasmith, particularly good at capturing the landscape of Middle-earth.

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

One more from the Rankin/Bass movie, because I love it so.

 

Klaus Ensikat, for the second German edition of The Hobbit:

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

Another from Michael Hague:

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

As I mentioned, this whole post could be full of Alan Lee; here are two more because I couldn’t resist:

 

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

David Wyatt’s crafty Smaug:

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

 

…and it seemed fitting to end on J. R. R. Tolkien’s own cover for The Hobbit, There and Back Again.

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades

The Hobbit as depicted in art over the decades


Irene Gallo is the Art Director of Tor Books.

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