Mechtild (mechtild) wrote,

Frodo in New Art Travesty ~ "St. Sebastian Healed by St. Irene"….

A new “Frodo as St. Sebastian” manip....

(I got a little carried away fiddling with this manip and made two versions. I am unable to choose which I finally preferred, so I am posting both.)

~ Detail of Frodo as St. Sebastian, by Francesco del Cairo.

As you art fans know, St. Sebastian is a favourite subject in Western art. Since the Renaissance, he has typically been depicted as stripped and bound to a post or column, pierced by arrows....

The actual story of St. Sebastian is considered unhistorical, except that he was a martyr of the Church in the late 3rd--early 4th century. Legend tells that he was an officer in the Roman imperial bodyguard. Secretly, he was a Christian, providing help to others at great risk to himself. When he was finally discovered, he was handed over to archers, who pierced him with arrows. Left for dead, he was found by the widowed St. Irene and healed of his wounds (her husband, Castulus, had been executed for harbouring Christians; Irene was martyred later). But when Sebastian had recovered, he did not renounce his faith. He was later arrested again and killed.

Interestingly, the earliest mosaic picture of St. Sebastian (7th century), shows a grown, bearded man in court dress but contains no trace of an arrow. It was the art of the Renaissance that first portrayed him as a young man, nude or nearly nude, pierced by arrows. Renaissance artists were keen to show off their new skill depicting the human body and St. Sebastian became a popular vehicle for demonstrating that.

It is the paintings of the Renaissance and later centuries that have made St. Sebastian familiar to me. Whether depicted as massively-muscled or as a slim, soft-limbed youth, he is frequently painted as beautiful (according to each artist’s tastes).

Actually, last year I made a Frodo Art Travesty from a painting of St. Sebastian by Baroque artist Guido Reni (linked here). I was so pleased with it, I assumed I was finished making Frodo into this saint. But this week I came upon an internet gallery that was completely devoted to the saint, giving a huge list of links to images of him from every era of art.

What a treasure trove! And as soon as I saw the Sebastian painted by Francesco del Cairo, I knew I wanted to make a Frodo manip from it.

To view the original painting by Francesco del Cairo (1607-1665), St. Sebastian Healed by St. Irene, click HERE.

* * *

As I gazed at this painting, I imagined not Sebastian being tended by Irene, but Frodo being tended by Ioreth, the eldest healer in the Houses of Healing, in the camp in Ithilien. Ioreth and the other healers from Minas Tirith would have been sent for as soon as soon as the captains saw there would be survivors to treat. The care of any sick still left in the Houses of Healing would be turned over to others. Every healer who could be spared would be needed on the Field of Cormallen.

The manip was made using a screencap from the scene in FotR just before Frodo wakes in Rivendell. In that moment, Frodo's face is smooth, with only the hint of a shadow. It makes me think of what might have been Frodo's expression when he passed into unconsciousness, resigned to death with Sam after the destruction of the Ring, "at the end of all things".

From the chapter, The Field of Cormallen....

Frodo and Sam could go no further. Their last strength of mind and body was swiftly ebbing. They had reached a low ashen hill piled at the Mountain’s foot; but from it there was no more escape. It was an island now, not long to endure, amid the torment of Orodruin. (…)

They stood now; and Sam still holding his master’s hand caressed it. He sighed. ‘What a tale we have been in, Mr. Frodo, haven’t we?’ he said. ‘I wish I could hear it told. Do you think they’ll say: Now comes the story of Nine-fingered Frodo and the Ring of Doom? And everyone will hush, like we did, when in Rivendell they told us the tale of Beren One-hand and the Great Jewel. I wish I could hear it! And I wonder how it will go on after our part.’

But even while he spoke so, to keep fear away until the very last, his eyes still strayed north, nothing into the eye of the wind, to where the sky far off was clear, as the cold blast, rising to a gale, drove back the darkness and the ruin of the clouds.

And so it was that Gwaihir saw them with his keen far-seeing eyes, as down the wild wind he came, and daring the great peril of the skies he circled in the air: two dark small figures, forlorn, hand in hand upon a little hill, while the world shook under them, and gasped, and rivers of fire drew near. And even as he spied them and came swooping down, he saw them fall, worn out, or choked with fumes and heat, or stricken down by despair at last, hiding their eyes from death.

Side by side they lay; and down swept Gwaihir, and down came Landroval and Meneldor the swift; and in a dream, not knowing what fate had befallen them, the wanderers were lifted up and borne far away out of the darkness and the fire.

~ Version One: Ioreth and Frodo (face unmarred), as Sts. Sebastian and Irene:

The second version I made of the painting was due to the inspiration of jan-u-wine, to whom I was previewing this manip. Having loved the poems she wrote for three of my other Art Travesties, I asked if she might have something suitable for this one. No, she said, but she would like to write one. But, she wondered, shouldn’t Frodo look more wounded? Hmmm, perhaps you are right, I answered.

I went to work stealing and modifying appropriate wounds and strands of damp hair from screencaps from, "the end of all things". After a day of fiddling and tweaking I was satisfied. I love the resulting version of this manip as much as the first one. I like the clarity of expression on the unmarred face, but the wounded version has its own lovely pathos.

The pathos of this manip is highly suited to the poem jan-u-wine made for it. Written from Ioreth's point of view, it's a gorgeous poem, simple, spare, and eloquent.

* * *

On the Field of Cormallen

~ by Jan-u-wine

Another of the Periannath.

He is not the first of his folk I have seen,
tended to.

I cannot look up and meet the eyes of
Master Meriadoc,

(darting swift and

with fear,
those eyes)

who, if talk be true,
be his cousin.

Young Master Pippin
(kin, also, to this one)

lies not far away.

Mostly now,
he sleeps and is beyond danger.

But oh,

this one,
this one before me.

They say
(though how can it be true),

they say.......

this is the Halfling of ancient riddle,
*this* the Bearer of Isildur's Bane.....

Much ill has he bought himself in the bearing.

Much I fear which cannot be undone.

Like unto his cousin,
he wanders in dreams of darkness,

the marks upon his body
evidence of that which holds him prisoner within.

We shall not save him.

That his unknowing cousin should not see the tears
dimming an old woman's eyes,

I turn and dress the blooded wound that mars his breast.


I have seen this look before:

the pale serenity of a candle as it flickers and
gives out.....

the final light of it trailing soft like fingers upon the still'd air.....

Almost, now.

The Long Journey is not far off.

I should bring Master Merry to his side.

There is a scent of roses in the air,

such as grew in Imloth Melui when I
were but a lass.

The scent of roses.....

The King.

Less than a fortnight gone,
I knew him only as a Ranger,

daring, in my ignorance,
to cross words with him.


though as yet the gull-winged crown rests not
upon his brow,

yet I know who he shall be....

I know
these hands for that which *they* are.

And the scent of roses grows
and blossoms......

(or kings-foil, in the common tongue).

The great king-who-will-be

and speaks words which I cannot hear
to ears almost parted from sound....

bathes the maimed hand with the healing herb....

touches closed eyes
and .....




in soft insistence,
that they turn to dreams of peace.....


they wake
to Light.

The King's hands are the hands of a healer.

I told my kinswoman so.

* * *

~ Version Two: Ioreth and Frodo (with wounded face), as Sts. Sebastian and Irene:

To browse jan-u-wine's Lord of the Rings-based poetry, click HERE.

ETA: I would also like to recommend a gen fic that is set on the Field of Cormallen, told from the POV of a healer named Indil, who has been appointed to tend Frodo. One of the first really tear-jerking fanfics I ever read, it came to me highly recommended and still is one of the most fully-imagined depictions I've come across of Frodo's two weeks of unconsciousness, hovering at the edge of life. The fic, written by Ariel, is called The Gift of Iluvatar. It is posted at lots of places, but you can read it at WotM by clicking HERE.

* * *

To see previous journal entries featuring Frodo Art Travesties, go HERE.

To see complete album of Frodo Art Travesties, go HERE.

~ Mechtild

Tags: art, frodo art travesties, jan-u-wine

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