Mechtild (mechtild) wrote,

New Art Travesty: Frodo as student in Girodet's 'The Geography Lesson'....

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~ Detail of Frodo in Girodet’s “The Geography Lesson”:

Yes! In honor of Hobbit Month, I have made a new Frodo Art Travesty. As soon as I saw his painting, even with the globe and the straight-haired Bilbo, I wanted to make Girodet's "The Geography Lesson" into an art manip....

For those who are interested, here is the original painting:

~ “The Geography Lesson”, by Anne-Louis Girodet de Roucy-Trioson 1803:

For the face, I chose a screencap from the series in which Frodo is saying goodbye to Sam at the Grey Havens:

The challenge in making this painting into a Frodo manip was that the teacher was so huge compared to the student. The student pictured is not a little boy.

Therefore, I saw my first task as reducing the difference. I tried cutting out the boy's figure, making it larger, and pasting it back in. That did not work at all. I studied it some more and noticed that it was the teacher's head that was so disporportionately huge, not his whole body. So I cut out the teacher's head and, after tinkering around for the correct size, pasted a smaller one back in (using the clone brush to fill from the background made empty, making some additional collar, etc.). With a little fine-tuning, the newly-sized teacher's head fit imperceptibly with the teacher's original body.

Frodo’s head required the usual tweaking for colour, contrast and sharpness match, plus hair work, along with making a tiny bit of collar. The only “new” thing I did to him (that is, an effect I hadn't tried before) was to add some colour to his face. Because Frodo’s make-up is so wan in the Grey Haven’s scene, the screencap didn’t quite suit. The teacher’s face is extremely florid, which made Grey Havens-Frodo look even more pallid. Using the “add tint” brush, I could bring faint colour to the suitable places on Frodo's face.

At the end, I added a very faint grainy filter, to help blend everything.


Of course, this manip could not possibly be a literal illustration of Frodo and Bilbo in LotR. In it, Bilbo’s hair is straight and the “map” they are looking at is a [relatively] modern globe. It is not at all the sort of thing Bilbo would have had in his study. Even if Bilbo did already have access to tales telling of Numenor’s folly and how the world was made “bent” (round), Bilbo’s maps were always described as things drawn on paper.

Bilbo had maps of the lands beyond the Shire at Bag End, but the youthful Frodo did not seem to have paid much attention to them, being fonder of stories than maps. In LotR, it is noted of Merry, not Frodo, that he studied the maps available in the house of Elrond. My guess is that Bilbo took his maps of the wider world with him when he left, since they would be necessary for his journey. Moreover, early in FotR when Frodo actually is looking at Bilbo's maps (after Bilbo's departure), the maps described are from the Shire.

But even if Frodo hadn't paid much attention to maps as practical navigational aids, he was aware of what they implied. They provided glimpses or hints, like runes, pointing towards the unknown; to that which was far away in both space and time; that is, towards Adventure.

I think the finished manip gives a sense of that awareness.

To me, the scene in the manip suggests Bilbo explaining a point of geography to his newly-adopted heir. “And here is the eastern edge of Mirkwood the Great, my lad, where the Forest River falls towards the Long Lake before it turns to marsh.” But Frodo is thinking, “Mirkwood ... what a wonderful-sounding name. Foreboding, even dreadful, yet it fills me with awe....” Bilbo might still be going on about plants and waterbirds, but Frodo is thinking of narrow dark paths, trees looming over him, the skittering sounds from things unseen in the tangled undergrowth, all of it giving him chills -- but chills of pleasure, for these things are not yet real for him. They still are things out of tales, things that happen to other hobbits.


In the opening of “The Shadow of the Past”, it is written of Frodo as he reaches his fiftieth year that he is thinking of Bilbo. He is beginning to feel restless, finding “the old paths too well-trodden”.

He looked at maps, and wondered what lay beyond their edges: maps made in the Shire showed mostly white spaces beyond its borders.

I think that expresses rather well what I glimpse in this manip, Frodo as a youth, newly come to Bag End. And isn't Tolkien wonderful? I love how much he can imply with the seemingly simple image of the "mostly white spaces" beyond the map's borders. White spaces. White light. White shores under a swift sunrise.


And, so, here is the actual manip....

~ Frodo as the student in Girodet's “The Geography Lesson”:

~ Mechtild

Find other Frodo Art Travesties LJ entries HERE.

View Frodo Art Travesties album of images HERE.

Tags: art, frodo art travesties

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