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