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Worlds Without End Blog

The Illuminated Silmarillion Posted at 7:18 PM by Jonathan McDonald

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This is something quite different from our usual science fiction and fantasy news: German art student Benjamin Harff created a hand-illuminated manuscript of The Silmarillion for his exam at the Academy of Arts. In Harff’s own words:

I created the deluxe-Silmarillion for my exam at the Academy of Arts. My first idea was to create illustrations for the Lord of the Rings, but I realized that the films had left a too strong impression upon me, so I could not work free. So I decided to illustrate the Silmarillion. The calligraphy was first planned to be reduced to one single initial for each chapter. So I studied the “History of Middle-Earth”-books as well as the Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien and especially his works as an illustrator, which give many indications about his imagination of Middle-Earth that cannot be derived from written words. I also tried to find out what inspired him lyrically and visually and I think you can put that into one word: nature.

It is obvious that Tolkien was also a lover of calligraphy, especially medieval. In the book “J.R.R. Tolkien – Artist and Illustrator” I found a hint about a book concerning calligraphy Tolkien had read. So I bought the same book and worked it through.

That was the point where I had more and more fun in doing medieval calligraphy and finally I had to make a decision: Illustrations OR calligraphy. This was not easy, because I had made very excessive preparations for the oil-paintings, but my time was so short, that I could not do both.

I do not regret my decision, because I have made my exam now and there are still tons of studies and prepared wood-plates waiting for paint. One study in pencil I put along with these words, they show the taking of Arathorn by the Hill-Trolls.

Thanks to Make for the link.

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4 Comments

Emil   |   31 Aug 2011 @ 07:38

I think that’s quite cool. Hopefully he passed with distinction. Magnificent effort. Show me any better fans than those of SF and fantasy!

Dave Post   |   31 Aug 2011 @ 08:24

This is a stunning work of art! Be sure to click through to the Tolkien library interview where you’ll find more pictures to amaze and delight. I would love to see this in person.

Mattastrophic   |   31 Aug 2011 @ 21:58

Good God, that is awesome. I think Tolkien’s head would have exploded if he saw this (while I think he would have absolutely hated the movies, not even liking people playing the radio). Tell me it’s done on vellum.

Allie   |   01 Sep 2011 @ 04:00

Wow, that’s beautiful! I think it really fits the tone and style of the Silmarillion, too.

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