New Frodo Manip: Ferdinand Heilbuth's "The Reader", plus jan-u-wine's 'Heir to the Dreamer'.
Happy Birthday, Bilbo and Frodo!
Note: This is the second of this year's two birthday posts. For Jan's birthday poem from Primula's pov, click HERE.
I have long wanted to post jan-u-wine's Heir to the Dreamer, a poem in which Bilbo reaches his decision to adopt the younger Baggins. I know I keep saying, "this is one of my favourites", but this is one of my favourites. What better way to celebrate their birthdays than with a poem, one that holds up facets of both these beloved characters so beautifully?
There are no film scenes of Frodo as a child, and I've already presented all the early FotR scenes set in the Shire. Consequently, for the purposes of illustrating this poem, I felt compelled to make a new Frodo manip. My file of Frodo Art Travesty "possibles" has got very small, but there was one piece I thought might do. Although the picture was painted in the middle of the nineteenth century, it recalls art from an earlier era. It reminds me of Frodo manips I've already made from portraits of young men with books, such as those by Bronzino, Lotto and Metsu, but these were painted in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Heilbuth's chiaroscuro and rich but judicious use of colour give the painting a more venerable heritage, one worthy of film-Frodo's classic looks. I think the resulting image complements jan-u-wine's poem well.
The source painting:
I could not find that much about the painter, Ferdinand Heilbuth. He was born in Hamburg in 1826, where he lived until he left his studies to become a Rabbi and travelled to Dusseldorf, Rome and Paris with one of France’s most important artists, Gleyre. He stayed in France, becoming a citizen in 1876. He died in 1889.
His exhibited at the Royal Academy in London twice, and at the Grosvenor Gallery many times. He was voted and decorated into the Legion of Honor. Vincent Van Gogh admired his ability and wanted to join Heilbuth and another artist friend, Anthon Van Rappard, in Paris to paint together. (It isn't clear that this ever happened.) The few short entries I found said that Heilbuth was admired for his expressiveness and use of colour, and that he excelled as a portrait painter. He certainly knew how to paint Frodo!
The Reader, 1856, by Ferdinand Heilbuth:
The other element for the manip is, of course, film-Frodo's face. After a good deal of experimentation I chose the screencap below, which comes from the scene in Bree in FotR:
The Final Manip:
Below are two sizes of the manip, since people's computer screens are so varied in size. I really love the way it turned out. The colours and rendering and mood of the original painting are superb, but changing the faces dramatically changes the painting. In the original piece, a sweet-faced young man is pleasantly absorbed in what looks like interesting reading. Frodo is absorbed, but it's not clear if he's absorbed in what he's reading or merely staring at the page, thinking of something else. Perhaps it's the passage he just read, but maybe his thoughts have been prompted by the smell of leaves drifting in or the sound of a change in the wind.
As for me, I suppose as a film-fan, knowledge of the scene from which the face comes strongly influences the way I view the manip. Because I know that Frodo, in that moment, has just learned that Gandalf has not arrived in Bree, I can't help the roil of emotions Frodo is experiencing from crossing over into my impression of the final image. Other viewers will see other things. But I love how Frodo's face in the painting evokes so many possibilities.
Heir to the Dreamer
~ by jan-u-wine
It cannot be nine years they are gone.
It cannot be the lad grows, yet grows no better.
It was Yule when last I chanced to see him,
Yule, and the great Hall filled with warmth and light...
chock-a-block with feasting and couples a-courting in sweet-shadowed corners.
Bright brown brew, and fresh-pressed cider, mulled spicy-hot from cook's vast black kettle, wended pleasant down many a throat.
I had sampled more than a pint or two of honey-tipped ale when I spied him.
If laughter were a Sea, it were a Sea broken and ended by the silence of that shore.
I could not help but see the quiet of my cousin's eyes, mirrored in his own, nor the grace that bespoke the 'faerie wife' in that odd-slender form.
It was that night I gave him his father's pipe.
From the hollowed tusk of a mighty oliphaunt, it was, bound in Elven-flowered silver
And the lad took it, and became more quiet, still.
A nail-bitten thumb followed the curve of the stem,
touched the bowl as if to tamp down what was there only in imagination.
He turned from me then, looked past diamond windows, blazened with warmth and light, to that which lay beyond.
Silenced by winter's breath, it was, grey and stone-still, cold as…….
This will not do.
No, this assuredly will not do.
He will not know another winter here, I promise myself,
he will not know another season of despair.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Beyond the window of my study, old Hamfast and his youngest, (too small as yet to work the garden, but not to be denied) turn soil beneath the cloud-milked Sun.
The boy's feet carry him, in their excitement, to my door.
A small hand enfolds two grey spheres, round as marbles, delicate-veined and shining against dirt-smeared fist.
He is not so old yet as to know what these might be, but his eyes, green as old-willow bark, round with wonder as the creatures unfold upon his palm.
And the other.
They have decided me.
In the fall of this year, when the harvest is called home (and before ever the river falls to chill'd sleep)
I shall call Home a harvest of a different sort….
a harvest of youth-awkward limbs and lonely heart, a harvest of sea-dreams and eyes bemused by stars….
He shall be my heir, this Elf-strange lad who shares the day of my birth.
And I will teach him what he must needs know:
which crop is sown in spring, and which must wait for summer's heat…
what river feeds which farmer's land….
the proper tang of proper leaf….. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~
The gold nib of my pen meets parchment, twines words of salutation to those of invitation.
He will come, I know it.
He will come, and live beneath the green of the Hill, and dream of the moon-silvered Sea in the room that was his father's.
He will come.
I have decided.
~ First 2009 Birthday post: "Birth Day" by jan-u-wine, with detail from Bouguereau's 'The Young Gypsies'.
Other Tables of Links:
~ Frodo Art Travesty LJ entries (entries that present selected manips, which may feature notes on the paintings and manip techniques, as well as essays or poems).
~ Album of all Frodo Art Travesties (a gallery of images only—be sure to enlarge images after opening).