In Pictures: JRR Tolkein’s Estate Releases Rarely Seen ‘Lord of the Rings’ Drawings and Other Books

The estate of acclaimed author JRR Tolkien has released a new website showcasing artwork, some previously unpublished, by the author of The Hobbit and its associated trilogy, The Lord of the Rings.

A linguist who created the land of Middle-earth to bring his invented languages ​​to life, Tolkien was also a talented artist and cartographer who illustrated his ideas.

The father of the modern fantasy genre, Tolkien died in 1973. His books became bestsellers, selling over 100 million copies. the Lord of the Rings sold since their initial release between 1954 and 1955.

Tolkien’s art and writing went hand in hand, with illustrations being an integral part of his creative process. Sometimes the words inspired the artwork, and sometimes drawing a scene moved the narrative forward in new directions.

The author meticulously mapped the world of Middle-earth to ensure the precise movements of its large cast of characters.

Map of Rohan, Gondor and Mordordrawn so that Tolkien could accurately trace the action as he wrote book five of the The Lord of the Rings (ca. 1948) . It has been redrawn for publication in The king’s return by his son Christopher Tolkien. Courtesy of Tolkien Estate. “width=”1024″ height=”802″ srcset=”https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/03/710tiff108mb-1024×802.jpeg 1024w, https://news.artnet.com /app/news-upload/2022/03/710tiff108mb-300×235.jpeg 300w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/03/710tiff108mb-50×39.jpeg 50w, https://news .artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/03/710tiff108mb.jpeg 1569w” sizes=”(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px”/>

JRR Tolkien, Map of Rohan, Gondor and Mordordrawn so that Tolkien could accurately trace the action as he wrote book five of The Lord of the Rings (circa 1948). It has been redrawn for publication in The king’s return by his son, Christopher Tolkien. Courtesy of Tolkien Estate.

In addition to a number of detailed maps, the estate has published illustrations that Tolkien created for The Hobbit, The Lord of the Ringsand The Silmarillion, as well as drawings he made for his children, landscapes from nature and imagined abstractions. The works are each accompanied by detailed descriptions.

New website material includes a timeline of Tolkien’s life and examples of his calligraphy.

There are also previously unseen photographs of Tolkien and his family, including his son Christopher, who drew the final versions of the the Lord of the Rings maps for publication. He died in 2020.

The domain launched the site on February 26, an important date in the Lord of the Rings traditions. This marks the time when, in 3019, the Fellowship of the Ring was shattered, and Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee left for Mordor alone.

The series reached a new audience when director Peter Jackson helmed the award-winning film The Lord of the Rings film trilogy from 2001 to 2003, and followed it with a prequel trilogy for The Hobbit from 2012 to 2014. A new streaming series, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Powerbased on Tolkien’s story of Middle-earth, is currently in production with Amazon, slated for release September 2.

See more of Tolkien’s artwork below.

JRR Tolkien, <em>Death of Smaug’</em> I1936).  Tolkien had no intention of publishing this rough illustration, but many years later the sketch was used as the cover design for the Unwin paperback edition of <em>The Hobbit</em> in 1966. Courtesy of Tolkien Estate.  “width=”1000″ height=”815″ srcset=”https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/03/582azz0161.jpeg 1000w, https://news.artnet.com/app /news-upload/2022/03/582azz0161-300×245.jpeg 300w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/03/582azz0161-50×41.jpeg 50w” sizes=”(max-width : 1000px) 100vw, 1000px”/></p>
<p class=JRR Tolkien, Death of Smaug’ I1936). Tolkien had no intention of publishing this rough illustration. Yet many years later the sketch was used as the cover design for the Unwin paperback edition of The Hobbit in 1966. Courtesy of Tolkien Estate.
JRR Tolkien, The Hall at Bag-End, Residence of B. Baggins Esquire (January 1937).  Courtesy of Tolkien Estate.

JRR Tolkien, The Hall at Bag-End, Residence of B. Baggins Esquire (January 1937). Courtesy of Tolkien Estate.

JRR Tolkien, <em>Rivendell looking east</em> (early 1930s).  This drawing became the basis for the 1937 Rivendell watercolor in which the mountain walls are brought together, intensifying the depth of the chasm and the secret location of the "last family home." Courtesy of Tolkien Estate.” width=”851″ height=”1024″ srcset=”https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/03/520-large-851×1024.jpeg 851w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/03/520-large-249×300.jpeg 249w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/03 /520-large-42×50.jpeg 42w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/03/520-large.jpeg 1472w” sizes=”(max-width: 851px) 100vw, 851px “/></p>
<p class=JRR Tolkien, Rivendell looking east (early 1930s). This drawing became the basis for the 1937 Rivendell watercolor in which the mountain walls are drawn together, intensifying the depth of the chasm and the secret location of the “last welcoming home”. Courtesy of Tolkien Estate.
JRR Tolkien, <em<Firelight in Beorn's House</em> (January 1937).  Tolkien drew two preparatory sketches and two finished drawings of the hall in Beorn’s house.  They resemble the mead halls where Anglo-Saxon warriors would have gathered to feast, drink and sleep.  Courtesy of Tolkien Estate.  “width=”717″ height=”1000″ srcset=”https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/03/540-large.jpeg 717w, https://news.artnet.com /app/news-upload/2022/03/540-large-215×300.jpeg 215w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/03/540-large-36×50.jpeg 36w” sizes =”(max-width: 717px) 100vw, 717px”/></p>
<p class=Tolkien drew two preparatory sketches and two finished drawings of the hall in Beorn’s house. They resemble the mead halls where Anglo-Saxon warriors would have gathered to feast, drink and sleep. Courtesy of Tolkien Estate.

JRR Tolkien, misty mountains. An undated painting of the mountain range which features significantly in both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Courtesy of Tolkien Estate.

JRR Tolkien, <em>Shelob’s Lair</em> (1944).  As Tolkien wrote the chapter titled, "The Stairs of Cirith Ungol," he stopped to sketch the approach to the fortress.  This page is a perfect example of Tolkien using art to develop his written description.  Courtesy of Tolkien Estate.  ” width=”787″ height=”1000″ srcset=”https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/03/677azz0064.jpeg 787w, https://news.artnet.com/app /news-upload/2022/03/677azz0064-236×300.jpeg 236w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/03/677azz0064-39×50.jpeg 39w” sizes=”(max-width : 787px) 100vw, 787px”/></p>
<p class=JRR Tolkien, Shelob’s Lair (1944). As Tolkien wrote a chapter titled “The Stairs of Cirith Ungol”, he paused to sketch the approach to the fortress. Courtesy of Tolkien Estate.
JRR Tolkien, <em>A page from the Book of Mazarbul</em> (1940s).  This book was found by the Fellowship as they traveled through the Mines of Moria.  Tolkien carefully created three burnt, bloodstained fragments by using his own smoking pipe to char the edges of the paper and applying red and brown paint to look like dried blood.  Courtesy of Tolkien Estate.” width=”788″ height=”1000″ srcset=”https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/03/656azz0060.jpeg 788w, https: //news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/03/656azz0060-236×300.jpeg 236w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/03/656azz0060-39×50.jpeg 39w” sizes=”(max-width: 788px) 100vw, 788px”/></p>
<p class=JRR Tolkien, A page from the Book of Mazarbul (1940s). This book was found by the Fellowship as they traveled through the Mines of Moria. Courtesy of Tolkien Estate.
JRR Tolkien, <em>Mithrim</em> (1920s), detail.  This beautiful pastel landscape of Lake Mithrim in the land of Hithlum, taken from <em>The Silmarillion</em>, is further enhanced by the addition of a striking black and white border.  Courtesy of Tolkien Estate.  “width=”1000″ height=”700″ srcset=”https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/03/painting-tile@2x.png 1000w, https://news.artnet .com/app/news-upload/2022/03/painting-tile@2x-300×210.png 300w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/03/painting-tile@2x- 50×35.png 50w” sizes=”(max-width: 1000px) 100vw, 1000px”/></p>
<p class=JRR Tolkien, Mithrim (1920s), detail. This pastel landscape of Lake Mithrim in the land of Hithlum, The Silmarillion, is further enhanced by the addition of a striking black and white border design. Courtesy of Tolkien Estate.
JRR Tolkien, hringboga heorte gefysed (September 1927).  The title is a line from the Old English poem Beowulf, which translates to

JRR Tolkien, hringboga heorte gefysed (September 1927). The title comes from a line in Beowulf, which translates to “Now the heart of the coiled beast stirred”. Tolkien studied and taught this epic poem throughout his career. Courtesy of Tolkien Estate.

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