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Yes, Tolkien wasn't a professional artist, but his art for the Hobbit really works on many levels, and gives the reader a better idea of what Tolkien had in his fertile and amazing imagination when writing The Hobbit.

Much of the art here has never been seen before. Most versions of the Hobbit have no more than a score of Tolkien's illustrations, if that. A lot of this art was recently discovered among the Master's papers, and now has been digitally scanned and included for your viewing pleasure. (Interesting how few books the Professor wrote but how much background stuff he came up with while writing them, eh?).

True, in some cases, we have several versions of the same scene- several preliminary and then the finished piece. But I think that adds to how Tolkien was developing the scenes in his mind while writing.

Ok, now you know what to get for any LotR fan on your X-mas list
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on November 7, 2011
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, BEAUTIFUL book :). Containing over a 100 never-before-seen illustrations by Tolkeins himself, this was a magical journey into the world created by Tolkeins that I'd imagined as a kid - and it was almost exactly how I'd imagined it based on his descriptions.
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on November 28, 2011
Beautifully done book of Tolkien's drawings for The Hobbit. Slipcover is incredible!!! A must for a Tolkien collector. If you order buy two, one to keep wrapped up and one to will be a collectors item!
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When J.R.R. Tolkien wrote his classic book "The Hobbit," he also made several illustrations for it. "The Art of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien" explores all the artwork that Tolkien produced for that book -- every sketch and version of the illustrations, and how they related to the text. It's not a read for casual fans, but for Tolkien aficionados.

Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull carefully study all the pictures Tolkien drew -- the trolls, the interior of Beorn's hall, the entrance to the Elf-King's home, Rivendell from different angles, Bag End and the surrounding Hobbiton, Lonely Mountain, and so on. Each picture is shown in large, clear formats (sometimes with fold-out pages).

But they don't just study the final product. Just about every piece of art Tolkien made for "The Hobbit" is in here, from rough pencil sketches to detailed maps and watercolors. Even the scribbles in the margins are preserved.

And there's a lot of analysis of how these pictures came to be. Scull and Hammond explore Tolkien's "Hobbit" art, artistic influences and the evolution of Tolkien's artwork, as well as some of the changes he made along the way (the Elf-King's gate abruptly changes shape). And they answer some important questions in their analyses, such as... why is Bilbo wearing boots in some of the pictures?

As an artist, Tolkien comes across as possessing real talent, but technically untutored. His art ranges from pencil sketches showing the basic outlines to delicate pen-and-ink work, and even color work in deep earth tones of brown and grey.

He wasn't a great artist -- Scull and Hammond note that he had some artistic issues, such as the scale of furniture in Bag End. But his artwork does have a raw, almost primal power that really draw you in, and his careful attention to detail (EVERY tree in Mirkwood is on the map!) shows the level of passion he had for this project.

"The Art of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien" will seem a bit dry to casual readers, but Tolkien aficionados will not want to miss the insights that are unveiled about Tolkien's "Hobbit" art.
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on January 9, 2013
This book is a wonderful gift to all fans of Tolkien. The production quality of the book is excellent, the content is beautiful.

My wife has one of the early Unwin and Allen printings of the Hobbit, which features many of the illustrations in this book. To see the complete art and process of creation of it is a great treat indeed.

Highly recommended. 5 stars doesn't come close to a fair rating for this gem.
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J.R.R. Tolkien's prowess as a creative writer is now well known, but there may be some who do not yet realize that he was a gifted artist as well. In The Art of the Hobbit pre-eminent Tolkien scholars Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull have collected every known drawing and sketch made by Tolkien to illustrate The Hobbit and analyzed them with love and scholarly rigor. The result is a fascinating and beautiful book.

Tolkien was painstaking both in his writings and in his artworks. Often there are several versions of a planned painting, meticulously covered with Tolkien's notes to himself about improvements and adjustments that needed to be made. Tolkien was also knowledgeable about and deeply interested in the physical process of book publishing, and he was heavily involved in the process of designing, printing, and finally publishing The Hobbit. Included in this book are the familiar paintings and drawings that have been included in most editions of The Hobbit, along with discarded variations, all with rich and fascinating descriptions and analyses by Hammond and Scull. There are several foldout pages that provide a wider view of how some drawings developed and changed as well.

As a Tolkien fan for over 40 years I found The Art of the Hobbit to be a richly rewarding book to examine, and I intend to spend much more time poring over its pages. However impressive the artistic creations of others who have illustrated Tolkien's worlds, nothing matches the special beauty and love that he put into his own paintings and drawings. The Art of The Hobbit well displays that love and beauty, and it should become an absolutely essential part of the libraries of all lovers of Middle earth.
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on September 24, 2012
If you love The Hobbit then you owe it to yourself to buy this book.
An absolutely beautiful dust jacket (the hardcover itself is wonderfully decorated as well) is a nice preview of what's in the book.
Tolkien's 'The Hill: Hobbiton-across-the-water' in color (also an earlier b&w version is included)defines his vision perfectly for me. When I first read The Hobbit so many years ago (the 1970's) this is how I pictured Hobbiton. It was amazing to see Tolkien's landscape. There's many places the book has. Rivendell. Versions of Thror's map. Trolls! Sketches of the 'moon runes' (mirror-reverse of course.) The Misty Mountains. Beorn's House. Fanghorn Forest. Smaug himself. Sketches of Bilbo.
The sketches for the original book's binding and spine are fascinating and shows how much care and attention Tolkien lavished on the physical book itself - including the dust jacket. (And kudos to the original publisher for presenting the book this way - having no idea how it might sell.)
This is a large book (but not thick)with quite a few fold out pages - although these pages are not used to reproduce 'landscape' spreads - instead individual illustrations are on each page to better compare them side by side.
This book would make the perfect companion if you re-read The Hobbit as often as I do.
You will especially love this book if you're a hobbit or have some hobbit blood lines in your heritage.
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on January 1, 2012
Any Tolkien fan will appreciate this fine book, and any interested fan of the Hobbit in specific, will likely be interested as well. This book offers an interesting reference of the history and artwork of J.R.R. Tolkien while preparing to publish the Hobbit. The artwork is detailed and certainly unique, but revealing of Tolkien's aesthetic side in terms of painting and sketching. The book itself comes in a very nicely designed sleeve, using the author's artwork to create an edition that is worth displaying on its own merits. The binding is excellent, and the pages are of a fine stock that is heavy for the art to not bleed through. A fascinating glimpse at another aspect to the artist J.R.R. Tolkien and certainly an edition worthwhile to a fan of his works or in particular the Hobbit.
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on January 23, 2014
My husband doesn't fall in to trends he loved lord of the rings and the hobbit since he was a young boy
Now everything thing extra you find on the hobbit or lord of the rings has more to do with the movies then
Tolkien or his books. My husband loves his art and this book made him super happy to find under the tree this year
He has learned so much about Tolkien and his art work I would def recommend this for a Hobbit or Tolkien fan specially if they are really into the art
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on April 28, 2013
Not everyone knows that Tolkien did his own series of illustrations for The Hobbit. Rather like Kipling's illustrations for The Jungle Book, it's not that they're surprisingly great art in themselves, but they are unexpectedly good for someone who's famous for *writing* the book instead. In fact, I'd say Kipling was rather better at figures than Tolkien was: JRRT's landscapes and buildings are very well done--and maps and dragons, too--but his human figures (hobbits and dwarves, rather) are small and misshapen and out of proportion.)

Anyway, in this book Hammond and Scull have collected the illustrations Tolkien did for the first couple editions of The Hobbit--Allen & Unwin in Britain mostly, and some references to Houghton Mifflin in the US--and all the early sketches and working drafts they could find, and arranged them in order: in their sequence in the story, and within that, chronologically from first sketch to final plate. In many cases that's just a few images, but sometimes (Hobbiton, Rivendell, the Elvenking's Gates, the Lonely Mountain) JRRT spent many rounds working out the picture from different angles or in different media. There are occasion fold-out pages that let you look at several different images side by side.

My main disappointment was that Hammond and Scull didn't have more to say. The text is mostly connective tissue like "Here he added more trees; here he shifted the point of view; here's a watercolor version of the same," but very little critical about the pictures as art, or what the evolution of sketches says about Tolkien as an artist. We do get the occasional glimpse into JRRT's inherent *written* nerdiness: on one page where he's blocking out the moon runes, we can see where he has doodled translations of the text ("Stand by the grey stone when the thrush knocks" and so on) into Noldorin, Old Norse, and Old English in pencil on the side.

So: pretty pictures, a well-loved subject, but not enough "there" there. It's a collection, but not a whole book.
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