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NF-Lee's Gildor and Frodo

Thank you's for beautiful gifts of art....

Posted on 2006.11.19 at 15:08
Tags: , , ,

Before any more time goes by I wanted to say thank you to jan-u-wine and Whiteling....

1. Jan-u-wine.
Three weeks ago, jan-u-wine travelled from her sunny home near the Pacific to the chilly upper Midwest to visit elderly relations. Because we have been talking Tolkien for many months now, reading each other’s work, and working together on a few LJ projects (the entries which featured my screencaps or manips and jan’s poetry), Jan was inspired to take the extra time to add an additional leg to her journey, so that we could meet.

Jan only had time to stay thirty-six hours, but we filled them up, me showing her around and her taking me to see/hear “Flogging Molly”, a favourite band of hers that [by sheer coincidence] was performing that night in our little city by the lake [Superior]. How I wish the visit had been longer! Jan was a delight in every way.

Jan also came bearing gifts, the most impressive of which (other than her own engaging, warm presence!) being an art work she had commissioned from a fan-artist she knows (a diptych showing Sam’s reunion with Frodo across the Sea). I had admired it from little digital images she had sent me in emails, saying, “I wish I could see it in person!” Surprise, surprise, Jan had sent the canvases on ahead, just so I could have my wish. I really was floored. She even was willing to leave them here for a while, her treasures, so that my husband could photograph them in high-resolution for our files.

After Jan left, more gifts arrived in the mail: a favourite coffee and special (delicious!) sugar she had been telling me about, plus a couple of old prints she had found at a favourite antique store, one for my husband (an wonderful old Collier’s cover featuring a hunter shooting ducks – a little joke for my gun-loving husband), and one for me. The print for me was from The Chatterbox, an English children’s annual, once given as a gift book.

Chatterbox children's annuals, published during the second half of the 19th century (and intermittently in the early 20th), contained collections of literature and illustrators' art. The owner of the antique shop had removed the illustrations from the publications, selling them separately.

Below is a copy of the illustration Jan gave me. I loved it at once, thinking it made a superb Frodo, dressed in his Elven cloak, perhaps knocking on the gates of Bree. It's even raining in the picture. (Not surprisingly, Jan's thoughts were similar.) My husband very nicely scanned it so that I could send Jan a printable copy.

What a lovely thing – both the engraving and its subject. And if parsons really looked like this, churches would be filled to bursting.

~ “The Parson”, engraving, an illustration from The Chatterbox children’s magazine, 19th century:

Jan also sent me an excellent scan of the print she purchased for herself. I was able to make a good copy from it. It was another engraved illustration from The Chatterbox, a picture of 18th century orientalist, Sir William Jones.

Like Jan, I thought “Sir William Jones” made an excellent illustration of Frodo reading at his desk. In my own mind, I re-named it “The Scholar of Bag End.” Make your own judgment.

~ “Sir William Jones”, an engraved illustration from The Chatterbox, 19th century:

Curious as to whom William Jones might have been, Jan did some e-research and sent me some links, one of which (from the web page of Columbia University's Professor Frances Pritchett), was especially good and also had pictures.

~ Portrait of Sir William Jones that hangs at Oxford:

Sir William had a relatively brief stay upon the earth(1746-94), but was quite accomplished. And *quite* lovely to look at. What else might he have in common with the perian scholar? More than I had expected, it turned out. I beamed when I read this of him in Pritchett’s article:

William Jones, the leading orientalist of his day, was 'one of the greatest polymaths in history' (Richard Gombrich, in Sir William Jones. A Commemoration, 1998). (…) The first English scholar to master Sanskrit, he was the author of a Persian Grammar and of works on orthography, botany (…), Persian and Indian music, literature, history, myth and religion. He pioneered the translation for European readers of the great works of oriental literature.

Not only a scholar but a linguist! – a linguist in what were considered exotic languages. Wouldn’t the various dialects of Elvish seem as foreign to folks in the Shire as Persian and Sanskrit to farmers in Warwickshire? Furthermore, Elvish and Persian both have lovely alphabets, with letters that are as lovely to look at as to make. I am positive Frodo would relish learning to write in Persian and Sanskrit.

Again, thank you, Jan, for such lovely gifts, gifts that resonated with Our Favourite Character even than we had suspected.


2. Whiteling.

Months ago, right after I received and framed taerie’s splendid gift of “Frodo of the Shire”, I decided I really would love to have a framed print of whiteling’s drawing of the most gentle Valië, Estë, framed and hung upon my wall.

Many of you know Whiteling’s drawings of Frodo from screencaps, all of which are beautifully detailed, evocative portraits of the created world’s most beautiful face. But, as much as I marvelled at these, it was her portrait of the Valië that won my heart. I hadn’t even known she’d made it until I saw it on display as este_tangletoes’ new icon. I aked her at once, “Where did you get that -- and who did it?” I said to myself as Pippin once did, "I'm getting one."

I emailed Whiteling and asked if she would permit me to make a print from a high-resolution file. Very graciously, she acquiesced.

Estë is the wife of Lórien. Each of the Valar has a special concern in relation to the care of Middle-earth and its inhabitants. Lórien is the master of visions and dreams, and Estë's province is healing and rest, as well as the care of the fountains and pools of the gardens of Lórien. Together they provide rest and recovery to the Valar and the Eldar.

There is no textual evidence for it, but I always fancied that along with Elbereth, Estë was one of the Valar particularly watching over Frodo on the Quest. I believe it was at Estë’s behest that her husband sent Frodo the dream in Tom Bombadil’s house, resfreshing his spirit, about the far green country. It came to him filtered through the rain-song of Goldberry that was going through Frodo's mind as he drifted off to sleep. I am confident that when Frodo came to the Undying Lands, in such close proximity to Valinor, Estë did much to further Frodo’s healing.

When I look at Estë’s portrait I see it as somewhat akin to a “saint picture” from grade school – those little illustrated prayer cards given out as prizes – I always coveted them, but rarely was well-behaved enough to merit them. The difference is that the level of Whiteling’s art is much, much better [than what appeared on the prayer cards].

Speaking of Whiteling’s art, the style of this drawing appeals to me very strongly. Its style reminds me very much of Leonardo da Vinci’s: graceful forms and lines, delicately-rendered, yet full of quiet liveliness. I am thinking particularly of his study for his painting Leda and the Swan, one of my favourites of his sketches.

ETA: este_tangletoes told me in a comment below that Whiteling said her drawing style was reminiscent of Bernardo Luini (1480-1532), an Italian Renaissance painter, a follower of Leonardo da Vinci. Estë (aka este_tangletoes) provided a link to Luini's works. Here are three excellent examples: his Virgin Carrying the Sleeping Child, The Holy Family, and Salome.

Whiteling also told Estë her drawing had been inspired by the description of Estë: "She is the Lady of Healing and of Peace. She seems to listen inwards, and she seems perfectly content and peaceful." I am so grateful Whiteling was moved by that to set pencil to paper.

~ “Estë the Gentle”, by Whiteling (actual size of print 8 x 10 1/2 inches):

~ Close-up detail of Estë's face:

I had told Whiteling I wanted a proper frame for it. Since I couldn’t have a new one made (too expensive), I looked around the house to see if there was a frame already in use that would suit it. There was a frame my father made for me, decades ago when I had just come back from my "big trip to Europe”, with copies of pre-Raphaelite paintings I wanted to hang, but didn't have money to have them framed. My father worked with wood as a hobby, so he made me a set of frames. Since then, the pictures inside the frames have faded badly -- they were not real art prints but inexpensive posters.

I chose the gilt one, took out the faded picture, rolled it up and put it away, and replaced it with the Whiteling's Estë on a soft purple matting. It’s not a very good photograph, since we could not get rid of the glare on the protective glass, but it will give you an idea, Whiteling. I wish you could see it in person; I love the way it looks.

~ “Estë the Gentle” in the frame my father made back in the seventies:


3. Taerie.

I also want taerie to know I finally got a good photo taken of her stunning “Frodo of the Shire” in its frame, inset into creamy matting. It hangs opposite Whiteling’s “Estë”. I thought it was appropriate that Frodo’s "guardian Valië" should be close by.

My father did not make this frame, Taerie, but it’s an old one made of warm rustic oak that suits the painting. I received it handed down, from a dear friend of my parents.


If anyone reading this has not sceen the large views of Taerie's gorgeous Frodo of the Shire (including detail shots), they are posted in this entry.

~ Mechtild


shirebound at 2006-11-19 22:38 (UTC) (Link)
How wonderful that you and Jan got to meet at last! She sounds like a warm and generous person.

I definitely agree about Este -- I wrote her subtle influence on Frodo's dreams and healing into several of my stories. It's lovely to think about the Valar caring about someone as special as Frodo.

I'll have to come back later to view the prints, since my dial-up is being slower than usual today. But I do love reading your posts.
mechtild at 2006-11-20 02:56 (UTC) (Link)
It was truly a pleasure, Shirebound. I have only been with Ariel (Elasg) for as long a time, sharing a room with her and her daughter at the LotR Museum installation last fall in Indiana. I had never met her in person, either. That was another huge treat. But it was even cooler to meet an e-friend on one's own "soil", so to speak.

So, you have written Estë into your fics? Good for you! It must be inevitable that fans who really love LotR and read the backstory materials come to feel that Estë was hovering around the edges of the story all the time. She is definitely one of my favourite Valar, one who means nothing but good toward our favourite hobbit.

I hope you will be able to look at the copies of the prints Jan found, as well as Whiteling's portrait. They all are beautiful.
(Deleted comment)
mechtild at 2006-11-20 02:59 (UTC) (Link)
Why, thank you, Mews. And it's so good to see you posting again. I am hoping your ankle continues to feel better and better.

We did have an excellent time, but far too short. Both of us were nervous, I think. It's one thing to carry on a written correspondence, and another to actually meet. I have met very few fans in real life. Mostly it has been a very good experience, but there have been difficult meetings, too.

I LOVE the artworks, and marvel at the uncanniness of how well the illustrations fit.
pearlette at 2006-11-20 00:11 (UTC) (Link)
It never ceases to amaze me, how Frodo/Frolijah pops up in artwork and sculpture everywhere, so many years before his creator *conceived* him ... incredible. :)

The artwork of Whiteling and Taerie is absolutely beautiful. :)

I eagerly await Jan's triptych! :)
mechtild at 2006-11-20 03:09 (UTC) (Link)
Isn't it uncanny? I was just remarking to Mews, it's amazing how well illustrators anticipated Frodo in art. You have seen it too. Perhaps we each have our own special Frodo-seeking Palantiri.

I am sorry, but I am not sure that I will be posting images of Jan's diptych. It's hers, of course, since she purchased it, but it is still, in a sense, the painter's work. I won't post any images if the painter (or Jan, since I haven't asked he) rather I didn't. The artist may not like her work showing up on the internet for anyone to download, work she made for a particular friend and patron.

Also, even though Glen took pretty good images of the canvases, I know from tweaking them against the real paintings to adjust for colour and light values, the digital images don't begin do the real pictures justice. I could very well imagine the artist not wishing her work known through what really are inadequate images, even though they are better than the images that she has of it.

I'll ask, though. The diptych is very appealing. Jan asked for a folk-art style, which is what the paintings are done in, with Frodo and Sam not looking like their film incarnations. I think it's a work of great charm.
frodos_smile at 2006-11-20 01:53 (UTC) (Link)
I'm so glad you and Jan got to meet! She is indeed a wonderful, warm and very interesting person, and I'm blessed to be able to call her my friend as well.
mechtild at 2006-11-20 02:49 (UTC) (Link)
Yes, Frodo's Smile, Jan is a lovely person, besides being so incredibly talented. I don't know what I expected her to be like, but she was better.
(Anonymous) at 2006-11-20 01:55 (UTC) (Link)

we'll have no one-sided thank-you's here!

Dear Mechtild: I simply can't let you tell but one side of this story! There aren't many people who would put their lives on hold for a couple of days for a complete stranger, yet you did, and made the little time we could spend together wonderful. Your home and town are so lovely. I felt like someone who had returned to a place dear to their heart after a long journey: everything was new, but everything was somehow familiar as well. When the too-soon time came to leave, I found that my feet must needs go forward, but a bit of my heart insisted upon remaining behind.

I can only thank you and your husband again for your kindness and hope that one day I may be able to return the favor.


ps: I must add I also *loved* the Minnesota version of a mosh pit. I'll have to go punkin' in the Land of 10,000 Lakes more often.
mechtild at 2006-11-20 02:48 (UTC) (Link)

Re: we'll have no one-sided thank-you's here!

Oh, Jan, you're the greatest. That was some mosh pit at "Flogging Molly", eh? Surely there's never been a kinder and gentler one. It just goes to show that "Minnesota nice" extends even to mosh pits.

And you don't have to "return the favour", silly. You did much more than that merely by showing up.
stillscarlet at 2006-11-20 06:06 (UTC) (Link)


I'm a bundle of warm fuzzies, hearing that you two collaborators have met and got on so well. Especially since I recently had a similar meeting with a 'kindred spirit' I met online. I, too, feel like I left a piece of my heart with my friend.

And Mechtild, you are indeed fortunate to have such lovely artworks to treasure. But they are suitable rewards for the passion you pour into this fandom. *hugs*
mechtild at 2006-11-20 13:51 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Awww!

It's nice to hear from you, Scarlet! Yes, it was a meeting that was a complete pleasure. It made me sorry we live in such a remote place in terms of the fandom. I was a little jealous to hear how many drool-worthy events and in-person meetings with other fans Jan has experienced, since she lives in a huge city that is constantly hosting major events. But she is a humble person, and doesn't flaunt either her talent or her opportunities, lol. Kind of like that little actor we appreciate so much. For it's just chance that the LotR films should have come out and transformed where she lives to a fan mecca, instead of what she might have thought of it as: a traffic-snarled metropolis under a smog-plagued sky [by a very beautiful sea], with all the downside of any huge city along with its amenities.
Estë   (or ST for short)
este_tangletoes at 2006-11-20 13:53 (UTC) (Link)
What Stillscarlet said.

What a great LJ post this is. Thank you Mechling (((Hugs)))
mechtild at 2006-11-20 14:16 (UTC) (Link)
You started it all -- the finding and showcasing of Este the Gentle. But wasn't that cool about how the real person in the engraving Jan bought was a scholar of exotic languages? I almost shouted out loud when I read it. It seemed all the more "meant" that she should find that print. And in the Parson print, that it was raining, and that he should be knocking on a wooden door got me in a similar way.
maewyn_2 at 2006-11-20 14:58 (UTC) (Link)
What lovely pictures - all of them.

It's amazing how those pictures from waaaay in the past so aptly evoke Frodo! *cue Twilight Zone music*

Whiteling and Taerie's, pictures are beautifully framed - I hope you have them hung in pride of place!

It's amazing that a group of people, diverse in so many ways, from across the world, can come together in friendship and acceptance of each other. Tolkien could never have imagined the far-reaching effects of his writing so long ago. We have a lot to thank him for. (And of course PJ too, for casting one particular young actor to portray Frodo.)
mechtild at 2006-11-20 23:41 (UTC) (Link)
Whiteling and Taerie's, pictures are beautifully framed - I hope you have them hung in pride of place!

In my bedroom, opposite the bed, lol. Actually, I had put them in the "office" bedroom, first, because that's where I usually am, on the computer. But the light in here is so dim, they couldn't be seen properly. So I put them in the bedroom opposite the window which has a north light.

Yes, Maewyn, it really is cool the way we have been able to get to know, even meet each other. And all because of JRRT and the fact that "in a hole in the ground lived a hobbit."
whiteling at 2006-11-20 15:15 (UTC) (Link)
I'm just back from a week-end with an art friend (we studied art therapy together) who hung out her shingle (and lots of fellow artists helped her with that) and scrolling through my f-list and finding "my" Este surrounded by two such wonderful portraits!! I'm at a loss for words, Mechtild.
That's such a good frame you found for Taerie's fantastic Frodo of the Shire, and the one for Este is very fitting as well; and I love how you arranged the framed drawings on opposite walls.

And how great you met up with Jan!! You two must be soul-mates in your deep Frodo-love. I'm so glad you had such a wonderful time together. :-)

*blows kisses to both of you across the puddle*
mechtild at 2006-11-20 23:46 (UTC) (Link)
*blows kiss back* Ah, Whiteling, the picture looks gorgeous hanging up. Jan-u-wine was coveting it when she was here.

But they actually aren't opposite, I misspoke. They are on the same wall but on the opposite sides of an oak door. I just told Maewyn they are on the bedroom wall opposite the bed. *Oh, yes!* I put them in here, first, since this is where I usually am. But the light is so poor during the day, I couldn't see the pictures! So now they are on the wall I must pass to go to the loo -- it doesn't sound very flattering, but it means I linger on my way past them a lot. (This little bedroom where the computer is has a door into the master bedroom; it must have been the nursery, originally.)
alyrthia at 2006-11-21 00:51 (UTC) (Link)
These are just beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing them!
mechtild at 2006-11-21 03:01 (UTC) (Link)
You are welcome, Alyon. I really am pleased as punch: I have been so fortunate.
Estë   (or ST for short)
este_tangletoes at 2006-11-21 13:38 (UTC) (Link)
Mechling, have you tweaked the colours on the image of your framed version of Whiteling's 'Estë the Gentle'? Yesterday the colours were paler. And today I noticed that the background has a parchment shade with a little touch of caput-mortem (spelling?) in the face.

How wonderful that you got to meet Jan-u-wine, and that you took to one another from the word go. One could say:

Elen sila lumenn omentielvo :-)

Many thanks to you for all the images from ‘The Chatterbox’ and the beautiful framed images of Taerie’s and Whiteling’s art.

This LJ entry goes to ‘memories’.

mechtild at 2006-11-21 14:22 (UTC) (Link)
Are you sharp! Yes, I was making a re-size of 'Estë the Gentle' for posting and was scrolling past the framed image, which is in the same folder. It struck me at once that the colours were way off from the original hi-res, which makes the drawing look as though Whiteling had drawn it on a very warm cream-coloured art paper. In my in-a-frame shot in this post, Estë looked as though she had been rendered on white paper. So I "lassoed" just the drawing in its matting, and tried to match the colour to the larger print, so it would make a truer copy. It's not perfect, but much improved, to my mind.

taerie at 2006-11-22 05:38 (UTC) (Link)
Those pictures are astonishing! Mr.Wood must have just lucked out in the DNA department for his features to show up so often in art.. He probably doesn't know it or doesn't see it and that is likely for the best I guess..
Este looks gorgeous!!! And wow.. one of my pictures in a real frame! Not something that happens often that I get to see anyway.. Thanks for posting it! And thanks for giving it a real home. I am honoured that you like it.
So glad to hear about you and Jan having such a good time! I wish we all could get together some day.. Especially at a convention! But I'm not in the money much either these days. (I'm very put out that the big Lotr year at the Comicon in San Diego was years after I was one of the people RUNNING it! Damn.. wouldn't THAT have been fun.. driving hobbits around town.. making sure they got to panels and such. sigh.. Story of my life.)

mechtild at 2006-11-22 13:30 (UTC) (Link)
Aren't these pictures wonderful, Taerie? What finds Jan made rummaging through the bins of that antique store.

I wish I had a really good hi-res of your "Frodo of the Shire" in it's frame. Then you could see the texture of the frame and the matting. It really looks great hanging up.

(I'm very put out that the big Lotr year at the Comicon in San Diego was years after I was one of the people RUNNING it! Damn.. wouldn't THAT have been fun.. driving hobbits around town.. making sure they got to panels and such. sigh.. Story of my life.)

Wow, I had no idea! Hey, I read that EW is supposed to be at ORC in L.A. in March. I suppose that's too far and too expensive, though. If it weren't, I'd go myself. I am a little jealous of all the folks who have got to see "Frodo" with their own eyes. I am always writing about how the photographs of paintings never do them justice. It seems to be true for Mr. Beautiful, too.
frodos_mum at 2006-11-23 08:48 (UTC) (Link)
Wonderful etchings and illustrations!
Whiteling's Estë is so delicate and beautiful, and Taerie's Frodo of The Shire is mouthwatering. I'd like to bite Frodo's apple. Love all the details in this painting. Magical!
mechtild at 2006-11-23 14:28 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks, Frodo's Mum, on behalf of myself and the artists and/or presenters. Reading your comment, I realised I hadn't provided a close-up of Whiteling's drawing, so that interested parties could look at the pencil work. I added an image after I read your comment.

But do you see what I mean about how close-ups helped in the LJ presentation of Taerie's Frodo of the Shire? Her detailed style was so interesting and such a part of the painting's magic, I didn't see how it could be conveyed without out some detailed close-ups, especially for people actually interested in how artist's achieve their effects.

I still can't believe she just gave it away. I "give away" my fic, but that's standard practice in fanfic; it's never for sale, if only because it's against copyright law to make money from it. But, even so, it's not comparable to the situation for a painting or drawing. There may be many images of a work of fan art, but there is only one original. When writing a story or poem, there isn't really an "original" at all. Only books that are actually published and one can own can be collected in the same way, like people who buy first editions that have been signed by the author.
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